5 Things Parents Should Know About Food and Puberty
There is a lot of information out there and it can be hard to sift through sensationalized stories to distill basic facts. This is true for many topics, but few hit as close to home as the food we eat. After all, we want to be sure we’re feeding our family healthy, wholesome food.
So, we’re cutting through some of the noise to address a concern we’ve heard from a lot of you: early onset puberty in your kids.
There has been a trend of children starting to mature at younger and younger ages and parents naturally want to know why and what they can do to prevent it.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity is considered a main culprit of this phenomenon.
The higher a child’s body mass index, the more likely he or she is to enter puberty early.
And the younger children are when they become obese—even as early as the toddler years—the more likely they are to hit puberty earlier.
2. Maintain an Appropriate Weight
Children will naturally hit growth spurts in various developmental phases. Another aspect of maintaining a healthy weight in your children is ensuring they are at an appropriate weight for each stage. If they have a spike in weight that is out of proportion to their growth before they hit puberty, they may be more likely to have early onset puberty.
By feeding your children a well-balanced diet, you can help ensure they maintain a healthy weight that is appropriate for each life stage from infancy to pre-puberty.
3. Avoid Caffeine and Sugar
A Growth and Health Study conducted by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute looked at how soft drinks affected girls’ development. The study found that caffeinated soft drinks and soft drinks containing artificial sweetener were associated with early onset puberty.
4. Include Dairy and Beef
Some people worry about hormones contained in dairy and beef products. These foods are not only high in protein, but they are safe for children to eat. The acids and enzymes in our stomachs break down all of our food, making energy and nutrients available for our bodies to use. According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, hormones found in dairy and beef are digested in the stomach and are not passed into the bloodstream. This means these foods do not affect our own hormone production.
5. Watch for Chemicals in Non-Food Items
You may have heard of various chemicals (known as endocrine disruptors) being related to early onset of puberty. While the list includes certain pesticides called PBB pesticides, the National Institutes of Health found links between these chemicals and early adolescence came not through eating, but through external exposure, such as working in a factory around these chemicals or using various cosmetic and hygiene products containing phthalates.
If you want to learn more about hormones, pesticides and helping your kids stay healthy, check out some of our other articles.
Do you have a question about how to healthfully feed your family?