4/1/2015 The green light for red meat in a child's diet?
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But some are sceptical, questioning the source of this research.
“It is hardly surprising that a report funded by the meat industry reaches a positive conclusion about the role
of red meat in children’s diets, but when you look at the details the picture is far less clear’ says Liz O'Neill,
Head of Communications at the Vegetarian Society, who argues that “the UK-based World Cancer Research
Fund has recommended that processed meat should not be given to any children due to the ‘convincing’
risk of later colorectal cancer from salt and preservatives. ”
“Children are not advised to eat red meat because it is widely known that it is linked to heart disease, high
blood pressure, strokes, rheumatoid arthritis, gall stones, some cancers and many other diseases” says
Founder and Director of Viva! and plant—based nutritionist, Juliet Gellatley. “Children can obtain all the
nutrients the study mentions from healthy foods which are not linked to chronic diseases but instead
promote good health. ”
Good for you
There is research, however, arguing that red meat is actually good for you.
‘‘In recent years red meat has been under the spotlight and has been linked to negative health issues”, the
MAP study says, but “lean red meat provides a range of important nutrients for toddlers and children”, such
as vitamin A for eye function and immune health, zinc for growth and iron for brain development.
“Inc| uding red meat in the diet after weaning can help to bridge these nutrient gaps and so help to maintain
good health through childhood and beyond”, says independent dietician and member of MAP, Dr Carrie
Ruxton. “Emerging research suggests that including red meat in the weaning diet may relate to improved
health outcomes such as reduced obesity and better cognitive development. ”
“Parents are afraid to give their children red meat because of all the negative press, but the negative press
is from research that's been done on adults and doesn't apply to young children” freelance paediatric
dietician Judy More explains. “And because children are growing they need more iron per kilo of their body
weight than an adult does. So they need to have a more nutritious diet simply because the way they’re
growing takes a lot of nutrients. ”
“The problem we have with feeding children today is that children are being fed high calorie, low nutrient
foods” says expert nutritionist at Fitness Fusion Anna Ferguson, “meaning kids are taking in too many
calories but not enough nutrients.
“Fully trimmed lean raw beef typically contains only 5% fat, fully trimmed lean raw pork only 4% fat and fully
trimmed lean raw lamb only 8% fat” she continues. “This compares well with a food such as cheddar
cheese which contains an average of 34% fat. But as ever quality is everything. Also our portion sizes have
supersized over the years so a pound of fatty red meat fried, is only going to fill our children’s arteries and
fat stores vin'th saturated fat. In this fast moving world convenience has overtaken our taste buds. Plus we
are genetically made to love fat — this is a survival mechanism and manufacturers and fast food providers
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4/1/2015 The green light for red meat in a child's diet?
know this only too well. ”
“As far as the negative effects, the largest study done on the topic — a review that included over 1 million
people — concluded that when you remove processed meats from the statistics, meat has no negative
effects on health or longevity Editor—in-Chief of Fitness| nventor. com and owner of Musc| eDiet. net, Mark
But no matter what the stance on red meat, all seem to agree that its nutrients can be found in other foods,
“Lean red meat is a very expensive source of nutrients — in both financial and environmental terms” Liz
says. “There really is no need to lead families up the garden path by suggesting they need to feed red meat
to their children. "
“There’s lots of encouragement to drop meat and be more vegetarian or vegan, food writer Tony Bishop-
Weston says, “but what people need to realise is that the health benefits come from eating more fruit and
veg. Vegetables are full of iron, zinc, B vitamins and calcium, too. Research also shows that vitamin D
comes mainly from sunshine not food so if kids are playing computer games rather than riding bikes, again
that's nothing to do with a lack of meat in the diet. "
“The last thing our children need is more red meat” Juliet agrees. “In fact, what they need is the opposite.
Children need to obtain their nutrients from hea| th—giving, disease—busting foods which include fresh fruit and
vegetables; pulses; nuts and seeds and wholegrain, along with a little essential fatty acids. "
“A child on a vegetarian diet can get all the nutrients they need”, Judy concurs, saying that “what matters is
that the diet has enough iron in it”. But, she argues, “red meat is a good source of iron and the iron is really
well absorbed from red meat, whereas from other sources iron is more difficult to absorb. When fruit and
vegetables with vitamin C are eaten at vegetarian meals, iron is better absorbed from eggs, pulses and
breakfast cereals and nuts. But a little bit of red meat in a child’s diet is a really good thing. "
“Meat is a major source of protein”, Anna adds. “It is also an important source of B vitamins, including B12,
a vitamin which is not found naturally in foods of plant origin. These are our happy vitamins and help brain
function too. "
Seeing as NHS Choices seems to agree, explaining that as long as red meat is cooked in a healthy way
and eaten in moderation it can enhance a diet, it would seem that in order to get the best of both worlds, we
must eat the best of both worlds!
Written by Joanna Lowy
Joanna Lowy is online editor of Health Sector. net and Public Sector. net. Here she posts
some choice blogs relating to the world of mothers, children and everything else in
between. Comments welcome and greatly appreciated!
View all posts by: Joanna Lowy
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