'New Approach' Shifts Focus From Elimination To Looking At Diet As A Whole

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the past 10 years, growing concerns over childhood obesity has paved the way for more nutritious, healthier foods offered to kids at school.

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But now the American Academy of Pediatrics wants healthy foods to go beyond cafeteria walls, urging caregivers to focus on the nutritional quality of the foods packed and brought to school.

It seems while school lunches have improved, food brought by some of the students are still low in nutrition—and high in calories, according to a new policy statement by the AAP.

Also, instead of obsessing over what not to eat, the AAP is advising parents to take a different approach, and consider kids’ nutrition as a whole.

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Positive emphasis on nutritional value, variety, portion control and attempting to slowly improve quality of food is likely a more effective approach for improving the foods kids consume.

The AAP adds that restricting foods can backfire, actually making things–like sweets–become more attractive to children.

“Instead of thinking about what needs to be eliminated from our diet, we need to think about what to incorporate into our diet,” said Mark R. Corkins, M.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition.

Robert Murray, M.D., FAA​​​P, lead author of the policy statement, said that using “sugar, fat and sodium strategically” can help boost nutrition in kids’ meals.

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“Children, like adults, often want their own preferred flavors and textures during meals and snacks,” Dr. Murray said. “It’s no secret that brown sugar on oatmeal, or salad dressing with cut vegetables, can make these healthy foods more pal​atable to children, and increase their consumption. This is not a license to give kids anything they want; we just need to use sugar, fat and sodium strategically.”