Yogurt in the mix: Guiding Kids to better habits
I had the privilege of listening live to the symposium “Yogurt as a vehicle of healthy eating in children” at the recent NUTRIMAD 2018, a public health nutrition conference held in Madrid, Spain. Three scientists shared findings on how yogurt can spur kids towards breakfast, better overall eating habits and even healthy weight regulation.
A Look at Dietary Patterns in Children
Professor Luis Moreno from the University of Zaragoza in Spain discussed overall dietary patterns and obesity development. Some of the key takeaway points from his presentation:
- Data from both American and European studies tend to show that yogurt consumption is associated with less body fat. According to Professor Moreno, “Yogurt consumption is associated with reduced weight gain over time.”
- Yogurt is actually a minor contributor to the sugar intake in children. While total sugar intake is a problem in children’s diets, the issue has more to do with low nutrient dense sources such as sugar sweetened beverages, sweetened grains and candy. Yogurt is a nutrient dense food that actually contributes a minor amount of sugar to children’s diets.
- In terms of overall dietary patterns, Dr. Moreno emphasized the importance of breakfast, regular family meals, at least 4 eating occasions daily and the availability of healthy snack choices.
Combining Fruit and Yogurt
Dr André Marette from Laval University in Canada discussed the potential health benefits of combining yogurt with fruit and other nutrient rich foods. Yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, high quality protein, calcium and additional nutrients. Combining yogurt with fruits, nuts and whole grains further enhances the nutrient density of the diet.
According to Dr. Marette, “both fermented dairy products and polyphenol rich foods are associated with increased gut microbiota diversity, a marker of intestinal and metabolic health.”
Berries are a particularly important source of polyphenols, substances that have been shown to improve metabolic health and increase the diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut. Combining yogurt and berries results in a beneficial and synbiotic combination of prebiotics, probiotics, health-promoting plant compounds and nutrients.
Breakfast: Better with Yogurt in the Mix?
According to Dr. Ana María LOPEZ-SOBALE from the University of Madrid, children who eat breakfast consume diets with more nutrients and also have a more favorable body composition compared to children who skip the morning meal.
Dr. Lopez-Sobale also highlighted that many of the breakfast meals eaten by children have a low dietary quality. Since yogurt consumption is associated with higher intake of fruit and whole grains, it is a logical vehicle to improve the overall quality of both breakfast and a child’s daily intake.
For a detailed summary of the symposium proceedings, visit https://www.yogurtinnutrition.com/category/events/nutrimad_2018/