Archive for Nutrition Bites

30 Jul 2011

Juice – too sweet to be good?

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Nutrition Bites

Fruit juices have been getting some bad press lately….and I think it’s about time. I am not an advocate of drinking fruit juices regularly, and certainly discourage parents from giving their children juice on a daily basis – no matter how fresh/pure/expensive it is.

Research by a group at the University of Bangor has shown how drinking fruit juice regularly enhances a subconscious liking for sweet tastes and leads to a cycle of sweet food and drink consumption – a big risk for obesity, dental decay, and for children; refusal to eat ‘main’ meals and savoury foods. Whether fruit juice is 100% and no added sugar is irrevelant; both are loaded with sugar and calories. Think about how many pieces of fruit are needed to make a glass of juice – many more than you’d be capable of eating alone. Once the fibre is discarded from the fruit (when squeezed), the ability to feel full is lost and we can drink litres of juice (and it’s sugar, fructose) without feeling full.

The Bangor University study has called for juice to be excluded from the 5-a-day portions, and I agree. Have a look at my table below to decide for yourself.

What to drink instead? Water! Milk! Let children get used to plain tastes and that’s all they’ll ask for. Juices and sweet drinks can be kept for special occasions only.

100ml of:  Cola  Ready-made smoothie 100% fruit  Black-currant squash carton  Apple juice: 100%  Orange juice: 100%
 Calories (Kcal) 






 Carbohydrate (g) 






 Sugars (g) 






12 Jul 2011

Do kids need multivitamins?

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Nutrition Bites

Millions of adults take vitamins and nutritional supplements in the hope of achieving better health, fewer diseases and to defy the ageing process. In 2009, £674.6 million worth of nutritional supplements were sold in the UK. But are they really worth it and should we be giving our children nutritional supplements too?

A new report by Behind the Headlines, an NHS service that investigates health claims, tells us that despite the wide availability of vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements such as fish oils, we should buy and take them with caution; and particular caution is needed when giving them to children.

Read more

21 Jun 2011

Growth Charts explained…

No Comments Nutrition Bites

The growth charts in your child’s ‘Red Book’ (Personal Child Health Record) show a graph of the normal distribution of the heights, weights and also head circumferences of healthy children. Understanding their use is key to monitoring your child’s growth patterns. Read more

27 May 2011

The latest on child obesity statistics

No Comments Nutrition Bites

Children in the UK are routinely weighed and measured on entering Reception (age 4-5 years) and Year 6 (age 10-11 years) and categorised using recognised growth charts as ‘underweight’, ‘healthy weight’, ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’. Being an unhealthy weight as a child can have both immediate and long-term effects; obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, certain cancers, and have psychological, social and academic implications.

Recent findings from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for England in the 2009/2010 school year should that nearly one in five children leaving primary school are obese.

  • In Reception, nearly one quarter (23.1%) of children were either overweight or obese. In Year 6, this had risen to one in three (33.4%).
  • The rate of obesity doubled between Reception (9.8%) and Year 6 (18.7%).
  • The prevalence of underweight was low at around 1% for both ages.

This makes rather depressing reading, but it shouldn’t mean we turn a blind eye to children’s weight issues. Promoting healthy eating and a positive attitude to good food in the early years is certainly a good start, as is encouraging enjoyable exercise and physical activity during childhood.

If you are worried about your child’s weight, I recommend having an assessment by a paediatric dietitian who will provide practical and evidence-based guidelines for you to follow to ensure your child avoids becoming one of these statistics. Have  a look at my Healthy Weight Checker on the Blossom home page to understand how your child’s weight will be categorised.


13 Apr 2011

Village bans softdrinks – should you?

No Comments Nutrition Bites

Police in the Hampshire village of Whitchurch have called for a ban on fizzy drinks sold to under 16’s on Friday nights – claiming the intake of high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks results in youngsters being hyperactive and rowdy.

Although the average 500ml bottle of softdrink contains over 200 calories (almost 11 teaspoons) of ’empty’ sugar, that is, instant yet nutrient-free energy – it’s the additives like E numbers that many people believe are linked to hyperactivity. The Food Standards Agency advise parents who are concerned about their child’s hyperactivity to consider avoiding many nasty chemicals that are found in most fizzy drinks, including the sugar-free/diet versions.

For further reading see:

and Action on Additives has a search facility for foods, drinks and medicines that contain additives:

Finally, a great book by the Australian Sue Dengate called ‘Fed Up’ is recommended.