AVOIDING REFINED STARCHES: About 70 percent of parents said that food preparation for their children was a major challenge, as their children were ‘very picky’ eaters
By Wu Liang-yi and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Twenty-five percent of Taiwanese families do not eat whole-grain foods, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has said, citing a study on children’s dietary habits by the Nutrition Foundation of Taiwan.
The ministry revealed the findings as it announced a revision to its dietary guidelines, from recommending the daily consumption of “whole grains and stolons” to the consumption of “whole grains and coarse cereals,” in a bid to encourage the public to add brown rice to their diets.
The foundation examined the eating habits of 1,000 children and found that whole grains and coarse cereals were completely absent from the diets of 25 percent of the families, with the families mostly eating refined starches as their main staple.
About 70 percent of the parents said that food preparation for their children was a major challenge, as their children were “very picky” eaters.
Some foods that meet the grain requirements under the new guidelines are brown rice, corn, oats, sweet potatoes and taro, the foundation said, adding that families are advised to use grains as their main staple.
The study showed that 80 percent of the families that ate whole grains or other grains did not do so daily.
The white rice that most families eat as a main staple contains no fiber, so after it is consumed, it quickly enters the blood stream and causes a spike in blood sugar levels, Shih Chien University nutritional science professor Chen Chiao-ming （陳巧明） said.
People quickly feel hungry again after eating white rice, which over the long term can lead to obesity, she said, adding that this can also lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes.
In parents and children, the daily consumption of whole grains and coarse cereals as a main staple can improve digestion, prevent constipation, and reduce the risk of diabetes and intestinal cancer, the foundation said.
About half of the children studied responded that they dislike the texture, flavor and appearance of brown rice and oats, but 60 percent said that they like corn, the foundation said, adding that parents are advised to feed picky children corn, as it is a source of lutein and carotene.
The study showed that bitter melon, green pepper and eggplant were the vegetables children most disliked due to the vegetables’ textures.
Parents could introduce the vegetables to their children by cooking them as part of other dishes, which might disguise the vegetables’ textures and make them more appealing, Chen said.
Separately, a survey by the Health Promotion Association found that 99 percent of respondents in Taiwan consume insufficient milk products, the association said.
In addition, 90 percent consume an insufficient quantity of nuts, and 90 percent consume insufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables, the association said.
A child in Taipei tucks into a meal that includes sweet corn on April 29. Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Taipei Times