Should your kids follow the Banting way?

Recent remarks made by Tim Noakes implied children could also benefit from eating the high-fat, low-carb diet – but experts disagree.

“Eat less pap and bread and eat more animal organs,” Tim Noakes said to children in underdeveloped areas this week, as reported by The Star. Noakes is the author of The Real Meal Revolution, which encourages people to follow a low-carb, high-fat diet.

But Professor Nelia Steyn, research specialist at the Centre for the Study of Social and Environmental Determinants of Nutrition (CSSEDN), says she disagrees. “Most of the studies done for the Banting way have not been done for longer than two years and none were on children, whereas other studies which showed results indicating that a too high intake of fat can be dangerous have been done over five to 10 years or more and involved many more people.”

Professor Steyn, who was also involved in a study done by the University of Stellenbosch that showed the Banting way doesn’t help you to lose more weight than a traditional, balanced diet, says putting a child on this type of diet not only puts a child at risk of nutrient deficiency but also creates the possibility the child may settle into unhealthy or unbalanced eating habits both now and later in life. “Remember that what you feed your children at home is cementing their eating habits later in life. Recent studies suggest that one should aim to consume even more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to ensure optimum intake of nutrients and antioxidants. But fruit and vegetables contain a lot of carbs, so if you’re limiting carbs it implies you’re going to limit fruit and vegetable intake to a degree. That could easily lead to nutrient deficiency in children.”

She says another thing that’s been proven over and over again is the importance of fibre, which meat and fat have little to none of, in the human diet. “Low fibre is closely linked to constipation, and decreasing your intake could actually increase your risk of cancer.”

Her recommendation is to rather stick to a balanced diet that includes all food groups. “Yes, by all means – don’t eat too much bread because it is high in energy. But don’t cut it out completely.”

-Dalena Theron

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