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Kids develop peculiar eating habits. You've heard of the purity rule: potatoes and carrots must never be touched, or they are 'contaminated'. Or the idea that any food is fine as long as it is peanut butter. I have even heard of youngsters who won't eat vegetables except in Chinese restaurants. But that has not stopped the experts at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) from coming up with a new set of guidelines, published in the form of a pint-sized food pyramid, to help parents an teachers encourage kids to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

At the base of the pyramid (for kids 2 to 6 years old) are foods that contain mainly of grains with the recommendation of 6 servings per day. Above the base are veggies (3 servings per day) and fruit (2 servings). Higher up the pyramid are milk and meat (2 servings per day). At the top of the pyramid are carbonated drinks and sweets which are the children's favorite, but which are to be avoided or to be served only sparingly.

Now before you say, "Oh, that will never work !" consider the following. Two studies out in the past month show just how important it is to adopt good eating habits early in life. One study found that children who gain a lot of weight as youngsters develop more risk factors for heart disease as adults. The other study found that, a a group, black and Hispanic children eat significantly more fat than their white counterparts, which may help explain why heart disease is more prevalent among minority groups. Both findings show that the effort to instill healthy eating habits in your children is likely to pay of in the long run.

Overall, the new food pyramid for children is a winner. it is clear, engaging and has practical tips on everything from introducing your child to new foods (by making a game of choosing new fruits for the family) to helping 2- and 3-year-olds avoid choking (by cutting hot dogs lengthwise into thin strips). Another smart feature is the food pyramid's emphasis on physical activity. Vigorous play not only helps kids grow strong but also can make them hungry enough to try a wider variety of foods.

According to  a survey data, 37% of children aged 3 to 5 years drink carbonated beverages. The mere fact of drinking soda is not a problem; it is how much a child drinks that can get him or her into trouble. It is determined that children who drink soda consume about 300ml a day, or 40 percent of their daily fluid intake. Most of that soda, of course, contains few if any nutrients and may displace healthier foods.

What kids like most about soft drinks is the fizz, says Dr Lillian Beard. "I encourage the parents in my practice to take a little sparkling water and mix it in with their children's fruit juice to make a healthier 'soda'. Make sure to use 100% fruit juice and sparkling water that does not have any added sodium or sugar."

Even at that, you don't want too much fruit juice to displace other foods in your child's diet. Otherwise, he or she will miss out much on fiber, vitamins and other nutrients in whole fruit, and calcium from milk, yogurt and other dairy products. One final caution: the USDA's food guide does not apply to toddlers under the age of 2, who have their own very specific nutritional needs. Soon enough, though, they will be lobbying you for something from the chip group and something from the chocolate group.

From paragraph 1 and 2 :
  1.

(a) What is the use of the 'food pyramid' ?

(b) What type of food is recommended for 6 servings per day ?

   

From paragraph 2 :

  2.

(a) What are the types of food that are children's favorite ?

(b) Why are these foods to be avoided or served only sparingly ?

    From paragraph 3 :
  3.

(a) What does the expression 'to pay off' mean ?

(b) Give one example of how healthy eating habits will pay off in the long run.

    From paragraph 4 :
  4.

Explain how the new food pyramid for children 'is a winner'.

    From paragraph 5 and 6:
  5.

(a) Why is drinking too much soda not advisable for children ?

(b) How can parents prepare 'healthier soda' for their children ?

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Answers
 

1.

(a) It is used to help parents encourage children to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

(b) Food that contains mainly of grains is recommended.

 

2.

(a) Carbonated drinks and sweets.

(b) They are considered 'unhealthy foods' as over-consumption may lead to obesity.

 

3.

(a) It means 'to result in good health'.

(b) They help decrease the chances of contracting heart diseases.

 

4.

The pyramid is simple, attractive and has practical guidelines for parents to help their children eat a balanced diet and to be involved in fun activities, thus making them healthy.

 

5.

(a) It may lead to health problems as the drink contains few nutrients.

(b) Parents can mix some sparkling water with their children's fruit juice.

 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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