New CDC study shows Utah kids are not getting enough fruits and vegetables

Mar 28, 2023, 10:54 AM | Updated: 1:53 pm

SALT LAKE CITYA new study published by the Centers for Disease Control in February shows most kids in Utah are not getting the recommended nutrition. 

That is, the study shows kids are getting too much sugar and not enough fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Mark Cannon, president of the American Academy of Oral and Systemic Health, said a child’s diet is closely linked to their overall health.

On top of years of experience, Cannon works with groups of health care providers across the United States.

On Wednesday, Cannon will be attending and leading discussions in the American Academy for Oral and Systemic Health Western Regional held in Salt Lake City. 

He said he has found that children’s diets are important as they not only impact current health but also may play a big role down the road. 

“The diet is so important, and we haven’t recovered yet,” Cannon said. 

In referencing the road to recovery, Cannon referred to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, when more kids needed to go to the emergency room for dental emergencies.

This, he said, came during a time when a lot of people relied more on making one store run as opposed to many and buying as much preserved food as possible. 

According to a CDC study collecting data from June 2021 to January 2022, in Utah, 52% of kids ages 1 to 5 years old are not eating enough fruits and vegetables every day.

On the flip side, more than 66% of kids the same age is drinking a sugary drink at least once a week. 

Cannon said the consequences can show up later in life.

“Highly preserved foods, especially for children, is a really bad idea because those preservatives can be very negative to the brain development,” Cannon said.

He said the food a child eats over time can also be linked to how they sleep. It can also lead to throat and tonsil inflammation.

 Encouraging and living a healthy diet lifestyle is something Katherine Grande, a Utah mom of three, has down well.

“I try to not be sneaky, but creative, in adding fruits and vegetables to foods that we’re eating,” Grande said.

Some ways Grande said she will do that include adding carrots and zucchini to spaghetti sauce or adding fruits as toppings for pancakes.

She said while some kids may pick out things like celery or onion in soups, there is a way to still work veggies into a child’s diet.

 “One thing you can do is blend them,” Grande said.

 She said another way to get kids interested in fueling their bodies with good foods is by letting them help you in the kitchen with meal prep. 

 “… Letting them wash the vegetables, make them cut things: Chop them. They can snap green beans. They can tear lettuce — even tiny, little ones,” Grande said. 

 She said while a lot of parents find their kids may be hungry right before mealtime, that marks an opportunity to break out raw fruits and veggies to serve them as appetizers.

 More information on the American Academy for Oral and Systemic Health can be found on its website.

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New CDC study shows Utah kids are not getting enough fruits and vegetables