Early Life Nutrition: Too Little Iron, Too much Protein” conference

Early Life Nutrition: Too Little Iron, Too much Protein” conference
Beirut, 11 March 2015: Nowadays, more and more attention is given to children’s health. Studies show that toddlers gain 15% in weight and 25% in height in just one year. They require 4-7 times more the amount of some nutrients such as iron and calcium compared to adults. IMG_4249-300x200.jpg Nutritional deficiency was the centerpiece at the “Early Life Nutrition: Too Little Iron, Too much Protein” specialized conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut. This two-day conference, held on March 10 and 11, 2015, was attended by 400 pediatriciansand hosted by the Lebanese Pediatric Society. It explored the ongoing inadequate supply of essential nutrients for children of ages 1 to 6 in Lebanon. Considering that children’s stomachs are around 5 times smaller, it’s important to establish healthy eating habits early on to make sure they get the nutrients they need.The toddler years are a critical time for the development stage. Since growth in early life impacts future health, and early nutrition has a key effect on later health outcomes then,a balanced nutrition is key to lay the foundation for children’s well-being later in Life. Professor-Ekhard-Ziegler-from-the-USA-300x222.jpg Dr. Imad Chokr, President of the Lebanese Pediatric Society highlighted that, “In Lebanon, there are many misconceptions with respect to children’s diets. There is a general lack of iron intake (43% of toddlers suffer from iron deficiency), which results in iron deficiency anemia. In addition, there’s an excess of protein intake (around 40% double their needs of proteins), which leads to an increase in overweight, and low intake of fruit and vegetables thus,leading to a lack of esssential vitamins and minerals.” Dr. Chokr further stated that providing toddlers with a balanced diet rich in the esssential and adequate amount of nutrients is important for children’s optimal long term health. Reinforcing the prevalence of the nutritional deficiencies amongst toddlers, the burden of high protein intake and low iron, and how to prevent this in early life was Professor Ekhard Ziegler from the United States who stated that, iron deficiency is common in infants, toddlers and preschool children. His lecture highlighted that the two main causes for iron deficiency are:
  1. The typical diet of children is low in iron unless it includes iron fortified food
  2. Consumption of cow’s milk is associated with Iron deficiency
  On the other hand, high intake of protein is common among older infants whereby the main source of protein is cow’s milk and high protein intake is associated with obesity in childhood. Summing up Dr. Ekhard Ziegler said,“avoidance of Cow’s milk and its replacement by growing up milk would be ideal. In addition, parents should favour the consumption of meat and iron fortified food.”