Social Pressures, Nutrition Choices and Good Health
Hey Mom! What did you eat when you were pregnant with me? Remember now, I am not exactly young (only young at heart). And as a summer baby, my mother carried me during the winter months at a time when fresh fruit and vegetables weren’t as available all seasons. And I was born in an era when many infants were bottle-fed.
So it is interesting to read that Gishti and colleagues couldn’t find consistent associations of infant feeding patterns with metabolic outcomes in a cohort of 3,417 children (mean age = 6y). They write “Results from this population-based prospective study do not support the hypothesis that ever breastfeeding, breastfeeding duration and exclusivity are consistently associated with childhood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides or insulin.” This conclusion contradicts current thinking but the authors conclude that family practices, socioeconomic factors, and environmental influences overwhelm the impact of infant feeding choices.
In many ways, the findings reinforce the findings by Hunger and Tomiyama. They found the social stigma of being labeled “too fat” in childhood can be measured 10 years later. In other words, obesity and metabolic outcomes are not only a function of dietary choices. They are also a function of our environment.
Over the past century, lifespan has increased; primarily because nutrient deficiencies have been eradicated in North America through food enrichment and fortification. Food producers, manufacturers, and distributors have changed the composition, availability and cost of food (see Weaver et al, 2014). We are better nourished, often over-nourished calorically because of their success.
Maintaining good health requires more than calorie restriction and body weight management. Good health is dependent upon consuming adequate amounts of essential nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals. Many, many people are not consuming recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Numerous factors -including shelf location, impulse buying, and even brand loyalty – affect our purchase choices and dietary habits.
People shouldn’t be stigmatized because of their dietary choices or their genetics. They should be encouraged to make choices that provide the nutrients their bodies need. Just as breast feeding may not be a choice for some women, multivitamin-mineral supplements can be a safe, practical way to increase micronutrient status for others.
Gishti O, Gaillard R, Durmus B, Hofman A, Duijts L, Franco OH, Jaddoe VWV. Infant diet and metabolic outcomes in school-age children. The Generation R Study. 2014 EJCN doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.81
Hunger JM, Tomiyama AJ. Weight labeling and obesity: A longitudinal study of girls aged 10 to 19 years. 2014 JAMA Pediatrics doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.122
Tomiyama AJ, Ahlstrom B, Mann T. Long-term effects of dieting: Is weight loss related to health? 2013 Appetite doi: 10.1111/spc3.12076
Weaver CM, Dwyer J, Fulgoni III VL, King JC, Leveille GA, MacDonald RS, Ordovas J, Schnakenber D. Processed foods: contributions to nutrition. 2014 AJCN doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.089284
Wallace TC, McBurney M, Fulgoni III VL. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. 2014 JACN doi: 10.1080/07315732.2013.846806