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CNN Today

Claudia Gonzalez of the American Dietetic Association Discusses Couch Potato Kids

Aired January 9, 2001 - 1:53 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, easy on the vitamin A and beef up the iron. That's the gist of new guidelines by the National Institute of Medicine. The experts recommend no more than 3,000 micrograms of vitamin A every day. Some supplements contain more than twice that. Too much vitamin A can lead to liver and nerve damage, and birth defects. The researchers also say half of pregnant women do not get enough iron. That can lead to several complications.

Kids and TV don't mix when it comes to getting the right foods. Hopefully, there are no kids out there watching us now and eating at the same time because scientists at Tufts University say, when the television's on at mealtime, children are more likely to eat salty snack foods and caffeine, and less likely to get those important fruits and vegetables.

Joining me from Miami to talk about why is Claudia Gonzalez of the American Dietetic Association.

And Claudia, I can bet that this probably was not too surprising to you?

CLAUDIA GONZALEZ, AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSN.: Pleasure to be here. Yes, exactly. Some other three I can tell you that children tend to kind of be distractive with television, and not eating their fruits and vegetables. And sometimes they don't eat at all.

ALLEN: So it sounds like it really becomes more about TV and food being the pastime rather than food being the focus and getting a healthy meal?

GONZALEZ: Well, actually, we cannot blame TV for everything. We ask parents to do so many, in terms of we need to get the children to be involved with the groups of foods. We need to be a role model for our children. It is not only TV that you allow the children to have fruits and vegetables.

ALLEN: So what is this, then, about our culture that we know that we have a fast-food culture. How do parents stop, if they know that they're making mistakes and letting their children have the snack foods and park themselves in front of the television, as far as the study goes. How can parents try to work harder to get the discipline? to get the effort to make some changes in their families? GONZALEZ: Well, one of the things that we can do is we need to assign one or two parts of the house sections in, you know, and tell them, this is part of the -- that we will have our meals. The TV is when you need to take a break from homework, but actually the meal time will be in the dining room. So we separate, you know, the TV from what is actually the meal time.

And then, you know, during meal time, we need to introduce different foods. I know that it takes a lot of effort, a lot of time, patience. But we need to introduce those foods to our children. We need to tell them, this is good for you, and one day, you know, it may click in and say: Well, actually, yes, this is good for me. We need to be persistent.

ALLEN: Right. because in this study, too, it showed how poor nutrition from the get-go and throughout childhood can lead to so many health problems in adulthood. Do you want to give some moms who might be out there watching right now just a couple of ideas for healthy snacks for children who may be watching?

GONZALEZ: Well, fruits and vegetables will be the ideal, you know, snacks and then we have grains. Different foods actually. We need to introduce different types of foods, and allow the child to participate during the cooking process, and the shopping, and the grocery shopping and everything. And also, you know, exercise is very important, you know, factor in the health of our children.

ALLEN: Just takes effort. Claudia Gonzalez, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

GONZALEZ: You are welcome.

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