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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Selena

Only 1 in 500 children eats the equivalent of a single leaf of Romaine lettuce a day. Most doctors are not adequately educated about nutrition to be capable of giving helpful advice to parents, who have been found to overestimate the quality of their child’s diet. Increasing children’s intake of whole fruits and vegetables can help prevent and manage the following childhood diseases: asthma, atherosclerosis, obesity, and pre-diabetes. Recent studies support several approaches for getting children to eat healthier foods in social settings and at home.

Dairy consumption is strongly linked to constipation in children, as is low intake of whole plant foods. Many packaged foods contain artificial dyes that have been associated with hyperactivity in children. Aluminium has been tentatively linked to brain ailments, including Alzheimer’s; children’s main dietary exposure to aluminium is cheese and shellfish. Some teas may contain high levels of aluminium, and children should be discouraged from drinking more than one quart per day.

IGF-1, a hormone found in all animal products, may be a powerful tumor-promoting agent and is associated with early onset of puberty and obesity. Xenoestrogens are associated with birth defects, preterm birth, neurobehavioral disorders, thyroid disorders, obesity, allergies, and early onset of puberty. Higher intake of soy products is associated with later onset of puberty.

The processing and packaging of meat products introduce harmful compounds, including ammonia, arsenic, and nitrites, the last of which have been shown to increase the risk of childhood leukemia and brain tumors. Fecal bacteria transferred during the butchering process often contaminate meat. Even placing children in shopping carts with raw meat may be sufficient to infect them. One strain of E.Coli can create a toxin that causes acute kidney failure in children. Poultry may harbor an adenovirus suspected to promote obesity in infected children.

Children are more susceptible than adults to mercury poisoning, which comes mainly from fish intake. Potential damage may include: microcephaly, delayed development, delayed cognition, and gross neurological disorders. This may partially explain the finding that vegan and vegetarian children have, on average, higher IQs.

Industrial pollutants—possibly found in animal products such as fish oil supplements—are linked with thyroid disease, liver disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neuronal birth defects and endometriosis and may have detrimental effects on endocrine function and impair sexual development in boys. Pesticides have been linked to birth defects, neuronal deficiencies, behavioral problems, decreased IQ, leukemia and brain tumors.

Other research findings:

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