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Big discovery: Children like ...

Posted Jan 28 2011 5:24am
Big discovery: Children like sugary, fatty and salty food! Just like people!

That seems to be the only actual finding revealed below but great castles in the air are built on it

CHILDREN as young as three are getting hooked on sugar, salt and fat and the more they are exposed to junk food the more they want, a new study reveals.

The findings come as a leading Australian nutritionist attacks parents after a disturbing poll revealed as many as one in three children skip breakfast at least once a week.

The US study findings have prompted a warning from the researchers for parents to step in early and feed their toddlers a healthy diet to help turn the tide in the war against childhood obesity.

Lead researcher Professor Bettina Cornwell said fighting childhood obesity should begin at home. "First families should focus on reducing the consumption of low-nutrient 'junk' foods, replacing them with increased servings of healthy foods," Prof Cornwell said. "Salt, sugar and fat have been repeatedly linked to obesity, so parents should not wait for their children to begin school to learn how to make wise food choices."

Nearly 200 youngsters aged three to five participated in the study, published in journal Appetite, which found children both preferred salt, sugar and fat, and knew which fast food and soft drink brands satisfied their cravings.

"Our findings present a public policy message if we want to pursue intervention, we probably need to start earlier," Prof Cornwell said. "Parents need to seriously consider the types of foods they expose their young children to at home and in restaurants, as repeated exposure builds taste preferences."

Sally Shaw, of Hawthorn, said it was important her children, Grace, 7, and Felix Ricketts, 5, ate a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. "Sweet and salty foods are very addictive and I'd rather not have them be addicted to that sort of thing, I'd rather them get their sugars from fruit," Ms Shaw said.

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Bread is good for you

And making it is a pleasure too

By LYDIA SLATER

Dr Atkins must be ­spinning in his grave. After years of demonisation by the diet police, bread — crust, crumb and optional thick layer of golden butter — is back.

Sales of bread are rising for the first time in 36 years: Tesco, Asda and the Co-op have each reported an overall increase of up to 10 per cent, while speciality bakeries are mushrooming, their shelves groaning with ever more inventive breads, studded with everything from chocolate to potato.

And this week nutritionists have declared that far from being a food to avoid, bread is positively beneficial. It’s full of essential nutrients, ­vitamins and minerals, especially if you opt for wholegrain varieties with added nuts, seeds or dried fruit.

But even white sliced ‘mother’s shame’ has some nutritional value, as it’s a great source of calcium (essential if you’ve cut out that other modern dietary bogey, dairy).

Meanwhile, a new American diet book, The Carb Lover’s Diet, insists that bread, far from being fattening, actually helps to burn calories: wholegrain bread is rich in ‘resistant starch’, a type of ­carbohydrate that leaves you ­feeling fuller for longer because it’s hard to digest.

‘Studies show that resistant starch can help to curb cravings, control blood sugar levels and boost metabolism,’ say authors Ellen Kunes and Frances Largeman-Roth.

As it has only 80-100 calories a slice, bread can be a positive aid to weight loss rather than a diet-buster, as long as you don’t slather it with prawn mayo.

Bread is one of the earliest ­prepared foods known to man, dating back to the Neolithic era. It carries a heavy weight of ­symbolic value as the staff of life, an offering to the gods in ancient civilisations and a ­fundamental part of many ­religious rituals today.

A couple of years ago, worried by the presence of chemical additives in mass-produced bread, I bought a breadmaker to ensure my children ate as healthily as possible. I was worried it would end up in my great appliance graveyard at the back of a ­cupboard.

On the contrary, it’s been the best investment I’ve ever made. Every third evening, before I go to bed, I chuck in flour, water, honey, olive oil, salt, yeast and a few little extras now I’m an amateur expert and can go off-recipe — a handful of oats, maybe, or a sprinkling of pine nuts.

When the going gets really tough, a proper breadmaking session by hand is called for. If I’ve had a row with my husband, I grab a bag of flour and get mixing.

Just the silky feel of the flour trickling through your fingers is enough to calm shredded nerves. Then there’s the sensual pleasure of squishing up the flour, oil and warm water. The kneading is an enjoyably exhausting ­process that will leave your dough smooth and you slightly breathless.

My favourite bit, though, is when the dough has risen for the first time and you get to punch your fist into the centre of its satiny billows and squash it back down to size. It’s childishly satisfying.

By this stage of the process, any residual resentment has always dissipated, and I’m free to plump, plait or decorate my loaves before putting them in the oven and waiting for the rich smell of ­baking to permeate the house. And that’s even before you get to taste your handiwork and bask in the ­compliments from your family.

The whole breadmaking process seems calculated to put one in a good mood. It doesn’t surprise me to ­discover that a new social enterprise, ­Virtuous Bread, has been going into prisons and teaching inmates how to bake bread as a confidence-building exercise (not to mention a new skill).

In my experience, it’s worth hours on the therapist’s couch. So I’m off to cut myself a thick slice of home-made happiness.

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