Childhood obesity is a dangerous epidemic across the country. Kids are eating way too much fat, opening the door to Type II diabetes and other serious diseases. But not getting enough healthy fats can place children in grave danger, too.
So, what do you do?
"Fat consumption for babies is getting to be a complicated topic," says Dr. Cara Natterson, pediatrician. "We've heard a lot about obesity and obesity in children. And, so, as parents, as pediatricians, we want to avoid obesity, so we think of fat as bad. On the other hand, fat for brain development is actually very good."
The human brain has its biggest growth in the first two years of life.
"Really, when we talk about fat in the brain, we're talking about fatty acids. Those are the building blocks of the cells that make up your brain," Dr. Natterson explains. "The brain wants Omega 3 fatty acids that's the best building block that it can use to grow well, to think well, to work well. And there are lots of naturally occurring whole foods that are going to be good sources of good oils -- flaxseed or flaxseed oil, salmon, tuna, trout."
Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory; they stop inflammation in your body. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory; they start inflammation. The average adult is eating 16 omega-6s for every one omega-3.
"When it comes to our weight, we don't need more of anything. We need less of many things, so instead of teaching us to consume more omega-3s, I do think physicians need to start telling people to consume fewer omega-6s," adds Dr. Natterson.
"This is what I do for my kids. I have a six-year-old and an eight-year-old, who have both been eating salmon one to two times a week since they were just shy of a year old," she continues. "I bake with flaxseed, so I will occasionally throw flaxseeds into cookies or banana bread, or whatever I'm baking. And I have non-allergic children who love nuts, so they get a lot of nuts in their diet."
It can be hard to get these good omega-3 oils into your child, and for a picky eater sometimes the only alternative is a vitamin supplement that has the DHA or EPA in them.
"If your child is that picky, I would talk to your pediatrician see if there's a good vitamin supplement for you," Dr. Natterson concludes.
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