Body & Fitness

Parenting tips

New scientific findings could affect your child's health.
parenting tips

Getting kids away from screens and out in the open air can have multiple health benefits.

Reel them in

Fish is not normally a food you think about giving your baby, but scientists who monitored babies’ diets found that those who ate plenty of fish in their first year, had a much higher chance of being free from allergies by the age of 12.

Their likelihood of developing eczema dropped by 22%, and hay fever by 26%. The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that giving fish to infants as little as three times a month may be enough to improve their health prospects.

Experts at the Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, observed 3285 babies and studied their diets at the ages of one, two, four, eight and 12.

They also looked at how many went on to develop allergies. They quickly noticed that children who ate fish at least twice a month had significantly fewer allergies than those who rarely, or never, ate fish.

However, the study did not look at which type of fish had the most potent affect. Because shellfish can cause allergies, it may be a wise idea to avoid giving it to young children, especially if there is a family history of allergies. Talk to an allergy expert about your child’s diet if you have any concerns.

Shake it out

You probably know it’s not a good idea for any of us – and that includes kids – to overdo salt. But what you may not realise is that lots of sweet treats include hidden salt. As a result, your children may be consuming more than is good for them.

A British group called Consensus Action of Salt and Health (CASH) wants manufacturers to change the recipes of some sweet biscuits, as it believes the salt content is too high. When combined with salt from other sources, it may mean children are overdoing their salt intake, putting them at greater risk of developing high blood pressure as adults.

When CASH compared the salt content of biscuits with foods that are obviously salty, it found some biscuits had as much, or more, salt as products such as chicken nuggets, fish fingers or salted popcorn.

In fact, some biscuits had as much as 3g of salt per 25g serve.

Force of habit

Getting kids away from screens and out in the open air can have multiple health benefits.

Here’s another reason why too much television is bad for kids – children who spend a lot of time watching TV, consume more sugary drinks. In fact, for every hour they stare at the screen, the chance they will down soft drinks in large amounts increased by 50%, according to a Swedish study.

The researchers believe it could be down to exposure to TV advertising, or simply that parents who don’t set strict rules about TV are also relaxed about the type of beverages their children are allowed.

The long-term study from the University of Gothenburg also found that when the parents were interviewed two years after the initial study, the children with higher TV exposure were more likely to be drinking soft drinks on a regular basis.

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