Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Underweight kids take most supplement pills

slim kid
False weight concerns in children and excessive use of vitamin and mineral supplements may be adverse side effects of a healthy lifestyle. This conclusion can be drawn from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in more than ten thousand children, according to a study about supplement use among infants, children, and adolescents in the United States: All in all, no less than thirty percent of U.S. children take supplements regularly, most often multivitamins and multiminerals.

Nutrition experts do not agree. They advise healthy children to get all necessary nutrients with food alone, because supplements may lead to an excessive supply, according to a vitamin study in infants and toddlers. Conclusion: Vitamin and mineral supplements may be useful for children with special needs, but they do no good and may even harm if healthy children are taking them.

Adverse effects of a healthy lifestyle?

Back to the NHANES study. It reveals that most supplements are taken by people with a higher income, living in a smoke-free environment, spending less time with TV, computers and video games and, as may be assumed (but not assessed in the study), doing more sports. In other words, living healthy.

It seems that the supplement industry has been very successful in advertising the claim that health can be purchased in form of capsules and bottles. Thus, supplement use may be regarded as sort of a lead symptom of a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to food, such a lifestyle tends to a more technical view of nutrition, that is, supplying the machinery of our organism with all necessary fuels. Good and bad foods, fear of fat and weight concerns are other symptoms of such a view.

This has been backed by the results of the NHANES supplement study: The highest supplement intakes have been recorded in children who are underweight or at risk of becoming underweight. This study adds more evidence to the view that weight concern messages targeted to the so-called overweights tend to reach the wrong target. In the shadow of the war against obesity we see a growing epidemic of anorexia, not only in adolescent girls but in ever younger kids.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/freddyfam/161446857/

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