independent

Monday 22 September 2014

Good nutrition must start at an early age

Published 08/10/2013 | 05:40

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PORTION sizes in Ireland have increased dramatically over the last 20 years. Childhood obesity is one of the side-effects of this shift in eating habits.

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A free public talk organised by the HSE on this topic took place in Sligo last Thursday.

Professor Donal O'Shea, a medical specialist in Ireland on obesity, was the key note speaker.

He's expressed concern at the rising level of obesity in young children in Ireland.

We now mirror the large portion sizes, particularly of snack foods, previously only seen in America.

Over the next few weeks I will take a look at portion sizes recommended for toddlers through to teenagers.

If we are to prevent a new generation from becoming overweight or obese, good nutrition needs to start as early as possible, laying the foundations for a healthy life.

Providing a healthy diet during the early years can prove challenging for parents, when faced with toddlers who are fussy around food.

Recommended serving sizes for preschool children from three to five years, does depend on their age, weight and level of physical activity.

However, parents can sometimes underestimate how much their young child is eating, as portion sizes are smaller than those recommended for older children and adults.

PORTION SIZES FOR 3-5 YEAR OLDS

Starchy carbohydrates: Starchy carbohydrates provide energy for growing children. Try to include some at each mealtime.

These include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.

It is recommended they consume between four and six servings per day from this food group.

One serving is a small slice of bread, two-three tablespoons of cereal, 1.5 weetabix, two-three dessert spoons of cooked rice or pasta and one small scoop of mash.

Fruit and Vegetables: It is recommended this age group consume at least four servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

A serving size of vegetables is about one tablespoon or a small bowl of vegetable soup.

A serving of fruit is three dessert spoons of stewed fruit or one small fruit such as a mandarin orange, plum or apple.

Dairy: Three servings of dairy are recommended – one serving of dairy is 200ml of milk, a small pot of yogurt and a small matchbox size piece of cheese.

Protein: Young children need two servings of protein per day. One serving is one egg, two-three tablespoons of mince, one-two slices of meat such as beef or chicken, two-three tablespoons of beans, peas or lentils or one small fish fillet.

Sligo Champion

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