Fruits and vegetables as a means to combat childhood obesity?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Yes ! But what to do when my child doesn’t want to eat it… Here are several tips…

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Obesity, whatever the age at which it develops, is a complex and multifactorial disease but one that can be largely prevented. Preventing obesity in children and adolescents is very effective, even more so when children are young.

Globally, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 has exploded dramatically.

It increased from 4% in 1975 to more than 18% in 2016. This represents more than 360 million children and adolescents who were overweight or obese in 2016. Worse still… 60% of children who were overweight before puberty will maintain this condition. overweight in early adulthood.

Health side

We must also keep in mind that these obese children will be more likely to develop various pathologies once they reach adulthood, namely cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, certain cancers, disabilities, insulin resistance. with the development of type II diabetes…

Not to mention that childhood obesity is also strongly associated with psychological difficulties, poor academic performance and low self-esteem…

Yet a healthy lifestyle helps prevent childhood obesity

This prevention is based on the promotion of certain behaviors: maintaining a healthy weight for the mother, a diet and a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy; some women do not hesitate to consult a dietitian – nutritionist, to help them implement good eating habits from the prenatal period.

Check that weight gain is appropriate during early childhood with monitoring of the weight curve by the pediatrician or general practitioner. Make a good transition to healthy foods when diversifying your diet, play a role as a model in terms of healthy eating and physical activity when you are parents… So many behaviors that will work in favor of nutritional balance healthy.

Breastfeeding is also a significant element in the prevention of childhood obesity. In fact, it is associated with a 13% reduction in the risk of overweight and obesity. Additionally, each additional month of breastfeeding is associated with a 4% reduction in the prevalence of overweight.

child eating

Fruits and vegetables are strongly recommended in the prevention of obesity in children

Due to their low energy density and low glycemic load, as well as their high fiber and polyphenol content.

Encouraging children to consume it is one of the levers for preventing childhood obesity, but it is not always easy. Here are some tips and tricks to help you.

  1. Have you tried cucumber several times but your child doesn’t want it??? Do not hesitate and continue to offer foods rejected by the child: it has been shown that a food can be accepted after 10 to 15 exposures on average…
  2. Do not hesitate to offer fruits and vegetables as snacks, keeping them washed, cut and clearly visible in the refrigerator (24 to 48 hours maximum). You can also place a basket of fruit clearly on the kitchen table, for example. Thus, by acting on the child’s food environment, we can help them make healthier choices: the more visible and accessible the foods are, the more likely they will be chosen.
  3. Increase the size of dishes, spoons, plates, bowls, etc. for serving fruits and vegetables, and reduce them for foods with high energy density and low nutritional density (for example sugary or energy drinks, juices). fruits in small quantities in small glasses, certain fast food products, certain snack products, etc. These foods should be limited and reserved for occasional events).
  4. We can also recommend serving vegetables more often. To save time, they can be purchased pre-washed and in bags, in trays, but also canned or frozen at the supermarket.
  5. It can be useful to try new recipes, spaghetti, lasagna, chili, etc. By adding more vegetables.
  6. A fruit or vegetable should be offered with every meal or snack. For example, you can definitely put fruit in cereals, add a piece of fruit or a small salad to your child’s lunch, offer sticks of raw vegetables to dip for a snack, etc.
  7. You can also add visual appeal, for example by cutting fruits and vegetables in an original or fun way, with cookie cutters for example.
  8. Involving children in cooking and shopping can encourage them to try new foods and direct their choices towards fruit and vegetable products. For children who are most reluctant to try new foods, participating in meal preparation can help them become familiar with products using senses other than taste.
  9. The rule to recommend is the following: “Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are no longer hungry. Babies do this naturally when breastfed and at the beginning of dietary diversification, so it is important to maintain this natural habit from infancy to adolescence and let children learn to naturally sense their needs. This ability to respond to natural sensations of hunger and fullness will be important throughout their lives.
  10. And let’s keep in mind that we, as parents, are the best example to show them by eating more fruits and vegetables! Ideally, it is recommended to eat at least one family meal every day, or 3 to 4 times a week.

In conclusion

Fruits and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Health professionals, particularly general practitioners, pediatricians and dietitians – nutritionists, play an important role in the prevention of childhood obesity because they are best placed to work hand in hand with families and children. Don’t hesitate to ask them for advice on your child’s diet!