London, May 4 : Too much junk food is undoubtedly bad for children's health but too much healthy eating is equally harmful, according to a new study.
The study has warned that too much fibre and too little fat can cause vitamin deficiencies and stunts growth in the under-fives.
This means that young kids who have wholemeal bread, brown pasta and piles of fruit imposed on them are getting too full too quickly and do not have room for enough foods such as dairy products, meat, eggs and fish, which have vital nutrients for growth and development.
The study therefore insists on striking a balance suggests how much of what should be given to children at various ages.
The recommendations to some extent vary with the size and appetite of the child as well.
The World Health Organisation has provided some useful parameters for doing so.
1. Lower-fat milk
Toddlers should be given semi-skimmed milk from the age of 2. Fully skimmed milk is not suitable as a main drink until they are 5, because it doesn't contain enough calories for a growing child.
Since oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines contain residues of pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs, the Food Standards Agency suggest that boys should be given up to four portions a week, but girls should have no more than two a week, because the residues can build up in their bodies over the years and can affect reproductive functions in later life.
Shark, swordfish and marlin contain relatively high levels of mercury, which may affect a child's developing nervous system, so these should be avoided.
3. Eggs and nuts
Eggs given to toddlers should be well cooked until the white and yolk are solid to avoid salmonella, while nuts for children under 5 should be given only crushed or flaked to reduce the risk of choking.
4. Wholegrain foods
Avoid adding bran to children's foods and avoid giving very young children wholemeal pasta and brown rice.
Too much fibre can sometimes reduce the amount of minerals, such as calcium and iron, that they can absorb and leave them feeling bloated and too full to finish their meal.
By the time they are 5, young children can gradually be weaned on to wholegrain versions of cereals.
Adding salt to the food of children under the age of three is not required. Once over 11, like adults, they should have no more than 6g of salt daily.
High intakes can damage their developing kidneys and store up potential blood pressure and heart disease problems.
Children are getting about 17per cent of their daily calories from sugar when they should, like adults, be getting no more than 10per cent.
This means that four to six-year-olds should eat no more than 40g of sugar a day; seven to ten-year-olds no more than 46g and 11 to 14-year-olds no more than 50g.