Looking at the findings of the recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition carried out by Helen Keller International, raises the question of whether growing junk food consumption is contributing to the proportion of stunted children not going down.
‘Our results suggest that rapidly changing food environments and subsequent dietary patterns in LMICs (low and mid-income countries) might curtail recent achievements in the reduction of childhood stunting,’ says the The Journal of Nutrition study.
However, the researchers, from Helen Keller International and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, note that their results do not prove a direct link between eating junk food and the children’s growth but ‘present a plausible biological pathway for this relationship’.
We are what we eat, Aruna Uprety
Local is best, Aruna Uprety
The survey, which set out to study links between junk food consumption and nutritional health, looked at 700+ children aged 12-23 months, in Kathmandu Valley. The group that consumed the most unhealthy food and beverages – excluding breast milk – got nearly half (46.9%) of their total calories from those items, compared to 5.2% for the group that ate the least.
Researchers found that those who ate most junk food were at risk of having inadequate levels of eight nutrients: calcium, zinc, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folate. ‘Our dietary results suggest that 1–2-year-old children living in the Kathmandu Valley are at high risk of multiple micronutrient deficiencies, which are further exacerbated by high intakes’ of junk food, the report concluded.
The study also warned about other long-term impact of eating junk food: ‘In Nepal, the prevalence of adult obesity and diabetes is increasing, which indicates that these unhealthy eating patterns in young urban Nepali children urgently need to be addressed.’
Researchers noted that although some of the junk foods had been fortified, the high amounts of sugar and sodium that were also added to the processed foods made them overall unhealthier.