Nutrition News:  Weight Talk Around Teens, TV Ads and Kids, and How Fatty Fish Helps Eyesight

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Healthy Eating: The Teen Scene

If you want to instill healthy-eating habits in your children, obsessing about your own weight around them is not a great idea; it may increase the risk that they will develop eating disorders or obesity during their adolescent years and beyond.

That’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has released new guidelines on preventing obesity and eating disorders in adolescents. The AAP recommends that parents discourage their children from dieting, severely restricting their calorie intake or skipping meals.

Parents should encourage healthy eating and physical activity; make family meals, where adults model healthy eating, a priority; refrain from “weight talk,” either about their own or their children’s weight, and instead focus on “healthful-eating behaviors”; steer clear of “weight teasing” and try to encourage a healthy body image overall; and be aware of bullying or extreme weight-loss efforts in overweight or obese teens. Overall, UPI notes, a focus on a healthy lifestyle, rather than a weight, is the way to go.

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Commercials and Impulse Eating

Another way to help kids eat healthy: Limit access to food advertisements. A small-scale study of kids, ages 8 to 14, has found that those who are shown food commercials on TV make faster, possibly more impulsive, decisions to eat “tasty” (not necessarily healthy) foods and that their brains’ reward centers “light up” in response to these ads.

While kids in general choose foods based on taste rather than health, after kids watched food commercials, taste was even more important to them and prompted them to make faster decisions, and the part of the brain that is involved in reward valuation (the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) showed greater activity, the researchers reported in the Journal of Pediatrics.

“Parents and pediatricians should be aware of these results so that they can put limits on screen time that involves food advertising,” lead author Amanda Bruce, of the University of Kansas Medical Center, told Reuters. “They should also discuss with children the importance of critical thinking about commercials.”

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Fatty Fish and Eyesight

Can fatty fish lower the risk of blindness among those with diabetes? A study from Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red in Barcelona, Spain, suggests that just two servings a week of seafood, especially fatty fish, can combat diabetic retinopathy, a complication of Type 2 diabetes that stems from a retinal blood-supply reduction.

Participants in the five-year study were divided into three groups: One followed a low-fat diet, the second a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil, and the third a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of Omega-3-rich nuts daily. The second group saw the vision benefits.

“The team found that those who routinely consumed 500 milligrams (mg) a day of Omega-3 fatty acid in their diets (equal to two servings of fatty fish per week) were 48 percent less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than those who consumed less,” HealthDay News reported, and the researchers noted that it was eating fish, rather than taking Omega-3 supplements, that did the trick.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.