In a society where junk food is everywhere, your toddler will eventually get a taste of a sweet treat or salty snack. And toddlers, with their natural preference for these simple flavours, are often eager to get more. Here’s what you need to know about kids and junk food.
In a 2009 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario study, 76 percent of parents reported that their children consume high-fat, high-sugar or high-salt snack foods up to twice a week. The study also shows that children are eating fewer vegetables and getting less exercise during winter. Although these figures represent children between the ages of 6–12, unhealthy eating habits are formed early on.
Toddlers have small appetites, so if they’re given the option to snack on junk foods that are loaded with fat and calories, they won’t have room for more nutritious foods during meal times. It also increases their risk of obesity later in life.
Just keep in mind that most toddlers are attracted to things they’re told they can’t have, so it’s best not to label junk foods as forbidden. Instead incorporate them as “sometimes” foods, not “always” foods. It’s also a good idea to start explaining all the good things healthy foods do: they taste great and help you grow.