Because of the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables, more and more people are unable to afford to feed their children a healthy diet. Low-income minority children have a greater risk of becoming overweight or obese. They eat fewer fruits and vegetables and engage in less physical activity than higher-income children.
Healthy fresh fruits and vegetables have huge benefits for children. Children who eat a healthy diet tend to perform better academically and exhibit less aggressive behavior than children who suffer from poor nutrition. Too many children are not getting proper nutrients and therefore lack strong growth, healthy development and a lifetime of well being.
The benefits of a healthy diet for children include the following.
Children who eat a healthy diet are at a decreased risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol later in life. The increased fiber content in a healthy diet can ensure a healthy heart for life. Whole grains and green leafy vegetables are a good source of fiber in the diet.
There is now evidence that atherosclerosis begins in childhood and progresses slowly during adulthood. Atherosclerosis often leads to heart disease. Heart disease is the largest cause of death in the United States.
Children who eat a healthy diet perform better academically in school, have higher self-esteem, cope with stress better and avoid feelings of anxiety and depression. The brain needs healthy nutrients to perform at optimal levels. Children who eat a healthy breakfast before school are said to have higher test scores and participate more in the classroom than children who eat no breakfast before school.
Obesity is on the rise in the United States, especially childhood obesity. Obesity is caused by poor nutrition and inactivity. If there is no intervention for an obese child, that child has an 80 percent chance of remaining obese into adulthood and developing at-risk diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Obesity in children also leads to poor body image, low self-esteem, and depression. Eating a healthy diet can help decrease the risk of obesity and therefore increases the child’s chance of leading a healthier life free of mental problems.
Rickets is a childhood disease that results from the lack of vitamin D in a child’s diet. Rickets can cause bowed legs, an abnormal curvature in the spine, thickened wrists and ankles and breastbone projection. Rickets can be treated by adding vitamin D to the child’s diet.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become porous and easily breakable. If children don’t get proper nutrition, especially vitamin D and calcium in their diet, they are at risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.
A healthy diet for children is especially important because they are growing and moving all of the time. If a child isn’t getting the proper nutrition, this sets him/her up for many problems in childhood and at risk of health problems as an adult