Latest health news
Calcium for healthy bones
The most recent available national survey on chidlren’s health was conducted in 2007. The Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey is a report into the eating and exercise habits of Australian children. It found that Australian children were least likely to meet the daily requirements for calcium; a high percentage of children aged 9 to 16 years, particularly girls do not meet their daily calcium requirements. In fact, 82-89 per cent of 12- 16 year old girls did not meet the estimated average requirement (EAR) for calcium.
The development of healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis later in life is dependent on meeting the recommended daily intake of calcium. This is particularly crucial for school-aged children throughout their peak bone-building years. To ensure that your children are consuming enough calcium, visit the ‘Calcium Cowculator’ at Healthy Bones.com to test daily intake.
The 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey assessed food intake and activity patterns in almost 4,500 Australian children aged 2-16 years.
Motion sickness affects about 30% of people, with 5% suffering heavily, and is particularly common in children around 10-12 years of age. Children under the age of two do not tend to get motion sickness.
While there are many marketed remedies for travel sickness in children, few have undergone controlled trials, particularly in children. The best approach is to use simple preventative measures, writes Linda Graudins, Quality Use of Medicines Pharmacist at the Sydney Children’s Hospital/University of NSW Paediatric Therapeutics Program, in the latest edition of Australian Prescriber.
The article outlines a few simple ways to help reduce travel sickness, such as:
- Avoid unnecessary head movements by using pillows or a headrest
- If travelling by car, seat child near the front of the vehicle (e.g. middle rather than back row in a larger vehicle)
- Focus child's attention elsewhere, e.g. out of the front of the car
- Do not encourage reading or focusing on games while travelling
- If flying, sit over the aeroplane wing – the ride tends to be less bumpy
- Feed the child a light snack before travelling – avoid heavy, greasy meals
- Do not let the child get too hot – open the window if necessary.
Medicines such as antihistamines are available for travel sickness, however Ms Graudins says given their lack of efficacy and potential to cause side effects they should not be used to treat motion sickness in children under two and should be used with caution in older children.
For a full copy of the article visit Australian Prescriber.
New food standards for bread - iodine and folic acid added.
In a recently published report, ‘A Little Pinch Will Do You’*, nutritionist and public health campaigner Kathleen Alleaume looked at how Australia’s iodine deficiency compares to other countries.
Recent studies by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) show 43% of Australians don’t get enough iodine and because there are no symptoms, don’t know they are deficient. 70 % of women of child-bearing age iodine deficient), with risk of miscarriage, premature birth, brain damage, hearing loss and increased peri-natal mortality. Ten percent of children2 are also iodine deficient.
In response to the issue of iodine deficiency in Australia, FSANZ has reinforced dietary advice with a new food standard which requires regular salt to be replaced by iodised salt in all bread (excluding organic) from October 2009.
The best way to beat iodine deficiency is to make simple diet changes. Include two to three serves a week of seafood; eat fresh fruit and vegetables and low-fat dairy; and, when used, replace regular salt with iodised salt. Consumers concerned about their sodium intake should check food labels for salt/sodium levels and opt for low salt foods with less than 120mg/100g.
Since September of this year, bread now also contains folic acid, which is added to reduce the risk of babies being born with birth defects such as spinbifida. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should take a folate supplement at least one month before and three month after conception to reduce the risk of birth defects. While there have been education campaigns and many bread varieties have voluntarily added folate, most women are still not reaching the required intake of 400mg per day.
Mandatory addition of folic acid to bread-making flour is expected to reduce the number of affected pregnancies by up to 14%.
For more information visit the Food Standards website.
FSANZ 2008 survey quoted in ‘What is Iodine?’ Nutritionists Network, Nutrition Australia.
What’s lurking in your family’s tree?
Women, as the go-to leaders in most Australian households, are constantly juggling kids, career and community activities, as well as monitoring the health of their family.
Did you know?
- Family history is one of the major risk factors which can cause the six most common chronic diseases in Australia and affects four in every five people
- Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease, affecting more than 3.2 million people.
- People with a family history of diabetes have 2 to 6 times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- An astonishing 75 per cent of Australians do not know that family history is a risk factor
- Diabetes is a progressive disease and up to half of all people with diabetes are undiagnosed.
World Diabetes Day occurs on 14th November, this year concentrating on Diabetes Education and Prevention.
Kids and alcohol don’t mix
As part of its latest campaign DrinkWise has launched a website designed especially to help parents with facts about alcohol and expert advice about kids and drinking, as well as have their say about the issues.
Parents are invited to select their child’s age and review a comprehensive list of common questions and discussion points, related to the child’s particular age group.
- How your alcohol consumption affects your baby
- Encouraging family and friends to be better role models
- Making fun of people who don’t drink
Parents with children aged 0-6 years
- How your alcohol consumption affects your child
- What influences your child’s attitude to alcohol
- What to do if your child’s friends’ parents have different rules about alcohol
Parents with children aged 7-12 years
- Letting your kids try your drink
- Setting boundaries and establishing rules about drinking alcohol
- When should you discuss alcohol with your kids - visit DrinkWise.com.au.
This article was first published in the Spring 2009 edition of Australian Family Magazine.