Food with thought – The Harrison Blog
Dr. Juliet Gray: the nutritionist's view
Thursday 10 February 2011
Two recent reports serve as firm reminders of the responsibility we have as school caterers in helping children try different foods from an early age.
One US study showed that exposure of 3-5 year olds to brand information from ‘fast food' advertising and to the food itself influences their taste preferences for specific types of food, ie those higher in fat, salt and sugar as opposed to more ‘natural' food.
The other UK study was widely reported in the press with the usual sensationalist headlines such as ‘Junk food makes kids less brainy'. It showed that 3-year olds who ate a predominantly high fat, high sugar, ‘processed' food diet, rather than one that was based mainly on ‘traditional' foods (meat and 2 veg) or ‘healthier' foods (salad, vegetables, fruit, fish, pasta, rice), had slightly lower IQ scores at age eight and a half. The difference was apparent even after controlling for factors such as social class and the mother's education. This research suggests that good nutrition in toddlers is more important for brain growth than for slightly older children. It's well known that there is a critical window for brain development in the first few years of life and I'm slightly sceptical about the significance of this work - it's just another small piece in our jigsaw of nutritional knowledge and should not be over-interpreted.
However, both pieces of research underline the fact that what you feed children matters from an early age. At Harrison we can all help to educate pupils (and parents) about eating well, starting with nursery age children but crucially influencing secondary pupils - the parents of tomorrow.
An interesting link:
Dr Juliet Gray