For adults and children alike, the health benefits of consuming enough dietary fiber are well-known. Fiber aids in digestion and can decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. According to a new study, most children aren’t eating enough whole grain foods.
A report in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that preschool-age children do not consume even one serving of whole-grain foods in a day.
The intake for adolescents is only one serving per day. The study of more than 4,000 children ages 2-18 found that children are consuming grains, but they are not choosing whole grain. This means that children are getting less fiber, phytochemicals, and possibly less overall nutrition. Bryan County Schools began serving whole grain bread as a way to increase the fiber content of school meals this school year.
Consuming adequate amounts of fiber is important for your child’s health. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and dried beans. There is no dietary fiber in meat or dairy products.
So how much fiber should children eat? Until recently there were no formal guidelines geared for children’s need and their developmental cycle. Now we have a fiber recommendation for children ages 3-18. The new formula is the child’s age plus 5. For example, a five -year- old needs about 10 grams of fiber. This formula allows for the greater need for fiber as the child grows.
Bryan County Schools will continue to offer foods high in fiber. In addition to whole grain breads, lots of fruits and vegetables will be on the school lunch menu. Most children, even those who are picky eaters, like bread.
That is good, because bread, and grains in general, make up a big part of the Food Guide Pyramid. But what kind of bread should your child consume? Whole wheat breads have more vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium, folic acid, copper, zinc, and manganese. Remember that ‘wheat’ bread that does not say that they are ‘whole wheat’ will likely contain less fiber. ‘Whole wheat" will be listed as the first ingredient if the bread is made from 100 percent whole wheat.
By Carole Knight, Director of School Food Service