By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Japanese researchers have found that increasing dietary fiber can help prevent childhood obesity. After analyzing dietary data and questionnaires of 5,600 boys and girls (aged 10-11 years), the researchers reported their findings in the journal Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism: “Total fiber intake decreased the risks of overweight and high total cholesterol. Water-soluble fiber intake was associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure.”
The findings are important but not surprising. It is well known that kids who become overweight are consuming more sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, and less fiber-containing vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
Foods That Are High In Fiber for Kids
Fiber is found primarily in fruit, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and beans. Also known as roughage or bulk, it is a form of carbohydrate that your digestive tract can’t break down. It plays a big role in digestive and overall health by absorbing water and creating bulk that enables intestines to push out waste products.
The study is a reminder of what parents need to do: promote healthier foods high in fiber for kids, especially those that are at risk of obesity, as high fiber foods can curb weight gain and promote better health. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for the development ofdiabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues. The dietary fiber present in all plant foods is one of nature’s most powerful weight-control aids. Besides the fiber, plant foods are loaded with a host of essential nutrients and antioxidants.
My favorite diet for the prevention of childhood obesity is the PAMM diet, a combination of the Mediterranean and Asian diets that are packed with fruit, whole grains and legumes, such as beans chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans. The key point is getting kids to eat foods higher in fiber which are healthier. This means consuming less sugar, soda and processed carbohydrates and increasing intake of fruits and vegetables.
Here are some tips on how to get kids to eat veggies, as suggested by New York Times’ readers.
Shinozaki K, et al. Dietary Fiber Consumption Decreases the Risks of Overweight and Hypercholesterolemia in Japanese Children. Ann Nutr Metab. 2015;67:58-64.
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