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Pediatricians warn of health consequences from "diet hype"
It is difficult to determine exactly what a healthy diet should look like. This becomes even more problematic when it comes to children. But some parents put their offspring on the diet that they themselves consider healthy. This can have health consequences for the little ones. Pediatricians have now warned of a so-called "diet hype".
More and more people are paying attention to their diet
More and more people are paying close attention to the foods they eat. Some of my whole grains make us healthier, others swear by the best sources of protein. And still more rely more on so-called "clean eating" without processed foods, on vegan dishes or the Paelo diet, with which you can lose weight through Stone Age food.
Parents who have chosen a certain diet often prescribe it to their children. The consequences can sometimes be serious. The association of pediatricians specializing in gastrointestinal diseases has now warned of a "diet hype".
Dietary changes could lead to disorders in children
According to the experts, drastic dietary changes, such as a gluten-free diet or the omission of certain types of sugar, without serious diagnosis by a specialist, could lead to significant disorders in children, reports the dpa news agency. According to the report, the chairman of the Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (GPGE), Michael Melter, said: "There are sensible diets and there are diets that are purely mystical."
However, the Regensburg professor self-critically admitted that 30 years ago medicine itself recommended countless diets. "Today we would say that 90 percent of these things are a form of child welfare, which is what we did there." It is now known that humans can normally digest and use extremely many different substances. According to Melter, the gut is a “master of integration”.
Many ailments have no organic causes
The pediatrician and gastroenterologist Martin Claßen from Bremen has understanding for parents who want to help their children with abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea and reach for every straw. However, the vast majority of these ailments in children and adolescents would have no organic cause.
Food intolerances are repeatedly found in children, but according to the dpa report, many naturopaths diagnosed allergies with unscientific methods. "Then cow's milk is left out, then wheat is left out," said Claßen.
However, if children did not have milk, they could have a calcium deficiency and osteoporosis in adults. "A milk-free diet without it being necessary is a risk for the children," said Claßen.
A gluten-free diet is not good for everyone
Another problem is the gluten-free diet. Although this is very helpful for the chronic bowel disease celiac disease (gluten intolerance), there is a trend to avoid foods with the adhesive protein even without this diagnosis. It has long been known that gluten-free foods are not equally healthy for everyone.
Claßen expressed concerns about the social consequences: "The risk is that these children will not be able to participate in age-appropriate activities." For example, when eating on children's birthday parties or visiting restaurants with friends.
According to the expert, diets that are not medically meaningful could have a placebo effect. In such cases, you should try to eat the omitted food components after a certain time and see if the symptoms come back. "And in many cases they don't come back," said Claßen.
Children eat too much sugar
It is fundamentally problematic that children eat too much sugar. Since the eating behavior of children is also massively influenced by advertising, some experts are calling for a TV advertising ban for sugary drinks and sweets in the children's program.
The World Health Organization (WHO) only changed its guideline last year and recommended lower sugar intake to reduce the risk of being overweight, obese (obese), tooth decay or diabetes.
Sugar consumption in Western European adults is still on average almost twice as high as recommended by the WHO. The children's endocrinologist at the University of California, Robert Lustig, explained according to dpa: "We now ingest so much sugar with our food that our metabolic system can no longer cope with it."
No hunger diets for children and adolescents
Doctor Christiane Petersen, founder and head of the "Moby Dick" project (now renamed "Moby Kids"), strictly rejects hunger diets for children and adolescents. “Many children who are overweight and come to us have had a lot of diets. It is often the case that parents who go on a diet themselves propose the same for their children, ”said the doctor in an interview with the nutrition portal“ Eat Smarter ”.
"A child must always be allowed to eat enough! A radical diet for children harms health and development. Children are not adults; they need a lot of nutrients for their growth. "
Keep an eye on the level of development of the next generation
According to Petersen, the child's level of development should be kept in mind, when moderate weight gain is completely normal. The weight determination should rather be left to a pediatrician or adolescent and should not be carried out with the body mass index (BMI), which is explicitly intended for adults.
According to "Moby Kids", around 15 percent of children and adolescents nationwide are overweight, and more than a third of them are even obese. According to its own statements, the network “has set itself the task of helping children and adolescents with overweight or obesity between 8-17 years to lose weight. The program is based on three pillars: nutrition, movement and behavior training. (ad)