With the ever increasing instances of obesity in children caused mainly due to improper food habits and lack of exercise, it is becoming a fashion statement to eat food which is low on carbohydrates. If you pick up some magazine you will find a number of advertisements eulogizing low carbohydrate food both for kids and adults. But it is certain that all humans do require carbohydrates, and an individual gets the supply from the food one eats. The human body breaks carbohydrates into sugar which is a source of energy for the body. Thus consumption of adequate quantity of carbohydrates is essential for healthy development of any child.
Carbohydrates can be classified into two main types. These are simple and complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates or simple sugar ordinarily consumed by a human. This is found in milk and fruits. It is always better to get the sugar requirement from these items instead of a lollypop which is also made of sugar. The advantage of milk and fruits is that these, in addition to sugar, contain vitamins, fiber, calcium and other nutrients essential for healthy development of a child.
Complex carbohydrates are derived from starches present in different items of food like bread, rice and crackers etc. While eating any grain it should be remembered to buy coarse grain like whole flour and non polished rice as the refining process removes fiber and nutrients from grain. Nutrients provide essential inputs to body and fiber provides a sense of fullness and aids a healthy digestive system. This is why a bowl of oatmeal is more filling than a candy even though it has a lesser quantity of sugar.
When a child eats carbohydrates his body breaks it up into sugar which is absorbed in the blood stream. As the stream reaches the pancreas, insulin is released and sugar is transferred from the blood stream to cells which become the source of energy for a human. When the process is fast you feel more and more hungry, as is the case with simple sugar. In case of complex carbohydrates the process of conversion is slow and the child has a feeling of fullness. In addition to the feeling of hunger as the process of conversion is slow and there is no rapid rise in sugar level, the chances of developing heart problem and diabetes are lesser in case of complex carbohydrates.
Thus one can conclude that all items of food which contain carbohydrates are not bad for a child, but excess of primary carbohydrates is bad. To make them tastier, junk food and fast food items are made from items rich in fat and carbohydrates. Excess of consumption of these items are bad for the health of the child as these could be a major reason of obesity.
Balanced diet is must
To enable the child to eat a balanced diet his food should contain whole grain cereals, whole grain bread, brown or unpolished rice, fruits and vegetables. Milk given to the child should also be skimmed before serving or in the alternative you can buy skimmed milk available in the market. In case of a child who is more than 2 years of age, as a thumb rule, more than 50% of energy requirement of calories consumed should come from carbohydrates.
Due to the sedentary life being led by children due to them being glued to TV and computer for long hours and consumption of fast food, rich in refined food and fat, the problem of obesity is spreading fast in the developed world. Due to this, in many countries sale of fast food has been banned in schools. This does not mean that the child should not consume sugar but excess of it in the form of candies and other items is bad. This gets dissolved in the blood stream immediately and raises the sugar level resulting in increased instances of diabetes in children. It is your duty to insist upon your child to eat fruits and vegetables, which in addition to sugar, will be a source of fiber and minerals for the child’s body.
These food habits developed in childhood will continue throughout the life of a child and he will lead a healthier life during adulthood and the best benefits will be derived when he becomes a senior citizen.