Why hot chips are evil
Feeding a small serving of fries to a preschooler is like giving a bucket of them to their parents. Photo: Getty
It takes a fair bit for me to choke on my muesli but this little snippet had me evacuating a mouthful of husband Billy's home-made breakfast mix through my nose.
A study of 300 Adelaide preschoolers found that not only were 14 per cent of them obese, but also that 95 per cent of them exceeded the recommended daily intake of saturated fat. Yes, you read this right: 95 per cent. We're not talking about 15-year-olds who think a burger with fries is the cornerstone of a nutritious diet. Or uni students in Tennessee with accounts at Taco Bell.
These are two- to five-year-olds in Adelaide, for heaven's sake! They are no more able to cook their own food or pop out to the drive-through than I am to unravel the human genome. The only way they got a weapons-grade dose of saturated fat is that their parents fed it to them.
Sorry, Mum and Dad, but hang your heads in shame. I'm picking that the source of all this fat isn't due to a glut of gruyère in South Australia (although dairy foods were identified as a culprit in the study) or because duck-breast sangers are served up over there at barbecues outside Bunnings on a Saturday morning. More likely, it's due to our incessant romance with hot chips. Now I'm a fan of potatoes, which have plenty of fibre and are a silver medallist in the brain-supporting magnesium stakes, but dump them in a vat of boiling hydrogenated fat and they instantly lose their nutritional appeal.
Feeding a small serving of fries to a preschooler is like giving a bucket of them to their parents. It's pretty simple, really: a preschooler is about a fifth of the size of an adult, so a toddler can rocket to sat-fat OD in a soon-to-be-clogged heartbeat.
It gets worse. Kids start developing the bulk of their fat cells from about age seven until puberty. These are the number of cells they'll carry with them throughout their adult life: not really changing in number but rather in size, depending on how the child is fed.
However, overweight kids start developing them much earlier, meaning that by the time they reach puberty, they have a whole lot more of them than normal-weight kids. And they'll face a much higher risk of struggling with weight, health and body-image issues in adult life.
There, got that off my chest. Now, muesli anyone?
Unless parents want to see their offspring as contestants on The Biggest Loser season 23, there's no point ignoring the tsunami of information available on how to nourish themselves and their children properly. Parents, for the sake of your kids, please get smart about nutrition.