Deficiency disorders The food we eat contains a variety of nutrients all of which have different functions in the body. Different foods have high concentrations of certain nutrients. Milk is rich in calcium; green leafy vegetables are high in iron and meats and eggs are good sources of protein.
If a particular food is missing from the diet, some nutrients may become deficient in the body. For example, if a child avoids milk, he misses an excellent source of dietary calcium. A child who refuses to eat fruits and vegetables in the long run may develop vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as anaemia or vitamin A deficiency, among others. For these reasons it is important to include a wide variety of foods in the diet.
Poor eating habits Research has shown that the best time to develop healthy eating habits is during childhood. This is the time when the child develops tastes for food. Picky eating at this stage may cause a child to develop poor habits and avoid foods like milk, vegetables, fish, fruits, etc. It may be difficult to get a child to eat these foods later in life.
Poor appetite Picky eaters typically eat small meals and have poor appetite. This may in some instances lead to growth retardation, lack of concentration and mental performance and low immunity.
Low levels of iron and zinc are linked to decreased appetite in picky eaters. Researchers have observed that supplementation of iron and zinc results in improved growth and improved appetite (in terms of both energy intake of the snack and report of appetite).
Parents should therefore encourage their children to eat iron-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, and red meats like beef and lamb and also chicken and fish.
Dental caries Once children develop permanent teeth it is important for them to learn extra dental care so that your child's permanent teeth can last him a lifetime.
Picky eater's preferences for sweets or chocolates may cause dental problems including cavities in teeth. Children should be taught to brush their teeth as soon as the teeth grow in. Good oral hygiene habits will help ensure that the permanent teeth will last a lifetime.
Low levels of energy Childhood is time for learning and exploring. To be able to explore new things a child needs to be healthy and active. To be active, the child needs an adequate supply of energy, which can be provided by good nutrition.
A child who doesn't eat right may be inactive and sluggish. She may tire easily and lack interest in sports and activity. Studies have shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast are more active and alert than children who do not. Give the child a good breakfast and healthy snacks and lunch to provide enough energy throughout the day.
Obesity Picky eaters may prefer foods rich in fat and energy and may be more prone to become overweight and obese.
Obesity results from consuming more calories than are used and is epidemic in the modern world. Obese children often become obese adults, which may lead to many associated diseases later in life.
Low immunity Nutrition has a profound effect on immune function and resistance to infection. Protein-energy malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency are strongly associated with impaired immunity and development of infectious disease. Vitamin A plays an important role maintaining mucosal surfaces. Recent evidence shows that body defence mechanisms are all affected by vitamin A. Vitamin E also protects against infection and it increases the disease fighting capacity of the body.
In children with zinc deficiencies, long term zinc supplementation reduces the incidence, severity and duration of diarrhoea and respiratory infections. Prolonged zinc supplementation also improves immunity in severely malnourished children.
These vitamins and minerals found in fruits, meats and vegetables help build a child's immunity. A child with impaired nutritional status may have low immunity and may be prone to infections.
Help your children develop healthy eating habits so they will grow into healthy adults.