Sat | Jun 25, 2016

Junk food: Saying no is not child abuse

Published:Monday | September 2, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Dr Neil Gardner
Fruits make great healthy snacks and are quite filling, too. - FILE

Dr Neil Gardner, Contributor

As our children return to school, many will struggle with their attendance, grades or behaviour all because their food is making them sick. Most parents know that junk foods cause diseases like obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease. They are largely unaware that junk foods are also linked to diseases like childhood depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), learning disabilities and sleep disturbances. All of these disorders can seriously limit a child's ability to pay attention in school and be successful in examinations or in life.

The food industry is a multitrillion-dollar industry and much of their advertising dollar is spent targeting children. In their competition to remain viable, these companies are lacing their products with colour or flavour enhancers to attract and make your child an addict. Once addicted, your child may start to reject real, wholesome foods.

Why Foods Contain Colouring

People associate certain colours with certain flavours, and the colour of food can influence the perceived flavour in anything from candy to wine. Sometimes the aim is to simulate a colour that is perceived by the consumer as natural, such as adding red colouring to canned cherries (which would otherwise be beige). Imagine beige cherries, Yuk!

Some children are sensitive to dyes used to colour foods, in particular Red 40. Studies have shown that children who eat red dye are more likely to be hyperactive and out of control than those who avoid it. Parents often notice calmer dispositions and better attitudes in their children once red dye is removed from their diets. By the way, did you know that it is made from petroleum?

Read the Labels

Do you let the terms 'natural' and 'all-natural' in food labelling and marketing sway your purchasing decision? In some countries the term 'natural' is defined and enforced. In others, such as the United States, it has no meaning, so beware of foods bearing these terms in their labels. Avoid things that have ingredients that you cannot pronounce or if the ingredients list is very lengthy. The items in highest quantity are typically listed first in the ingredients list. Avoid things that have sugar, sweeteners, added flavours and colours in the first five ingredients.

Junk food to avoid




Fried chips

Cheese trix




Sugar-based drinks

Fruit drinks

Flavoured water





Hamburger meats

Real food alternatives


Fruits (oranges, mangoes, sour sop, otaheite apples, pineapples, bananas, etc.)

Fruit smoothies

Frozen yogurt (with live cultures)

Carrot sticks


Seeds and nuts



Purified drinking water

Real fruit juices

Coconut water

Almond milk


Fish - salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, etc.

Chicken and eggs (with yolk) - hormone-free, free range

Beef or mutton - grass-fed, antibiotics-free, hormone-free, lean

As you send your children back to school, remember to send them out with a nutritious breakfast with protein. Pack their healthy snacks and work with the school canteen to provide healthy alternatives that you approve of. Let us give our children the best possible chance for a succesful future.

Neil Gardner, DC, DACNB Diplomate,American Chiropractic Neurology Board Chiropractic Neurologist Gardner Chiropractic & Neurology Ltd., Phone: 876-978-1050-1/876-622-9241 or 214-432-5464 (from the USA)