(NC) - March is nutrition month and Canadian nutrition experts are encouraging school-aged children to improve their eating habits. Experts estimate as many as 30 per cent of Canadian children are overweight and 14 per cent are clinically obese. "Many Canadian children's diets are very high in unhealthy fats and sugar," says registered dietitian Gina Sunderland. "As parents, we really have to consider the effect diet has on the long term health of our children."
Parents looking to improve their children's eating habits should consider the following nutritional tips:
Follow Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating - This publication, available free of charge on the Health Canada Web site, provides parents with an excellent nutritional guideline for their children. It's also one way to ensure your child meets the daily recommended intake of key micronutrients.
Involve your children in food selection - Children are more likely to eat things they select. Involving children in the selection process is a way to discourage unhealthy snacking.
Stay away from fast food - Fast food has little nutritional value, and can be dangerously high in fat. Do your best to avoid fast food, and certainly don't allow it to become a staple of your diet.
Limit sugary snacks - Many snacks available to children after school and in brown-bag lunches are extremely high in sugar and can have a profound impact on weight gain. Offer children healthy snacks such as raisins, nuts or fruit instead.
Provide a daily multivitamin - Following Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating is the first step to ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake. Providing a child with a multivitamin formulated for children, such as Centrum Junior, is a good nutritional insurance policy.