How Getting Your Teens To Eat Fruits May One Day Save Her Life


2016-05-13 12:13

Teenagers, in general, are not especially known for their healthy eating habits, but here is one piece of advice you should gently encourage for your daughter – Eat more fruit.

Many different types of cancer are linked to obesity, including post-menopausal breast cancer. But just because the overall risk of breast cancer increases after menopause, does not mean you shouldn’t start now thinking about how to reduce your personal risk factors. One of those factors means (yes, of course) eating more fruits and vegetables.

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Most past studies have focused on fruit and vegetable intake in women during midlife and after. However, researchers now believe that the adolescent years – when breast tissue is most vulnerable to carcinogenic influences – may be a more optimal time to begin adopting a healthier diet. Just as with skin cancer, the choices you make as a teen do matter in later life.

In a new study published in The BMJ, high fruit consumption during the teen years was associated with about a 25% reduced risk of breast cancer diagnosed in middle age. Apples, bananas and grapes were especially beneficial – which is wonderful news as these are generally well accepted among even the pickiest eaters. Oranges and kale were also associated with benefits, but more so in early adulthood.

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Of note, there was no link between the intake of fruit juice at any age and a reduced risk of cancer – indicating the whole fruit was a better option than a glass of juice.

As this was an observation study, based on diet recall, it needs more evidence before we can consider it “truth.” However, fruits and vegetables obviously have so many other health benefits, that efforts to eat a more plant-based diet should continue to be encouraged.

So how do you get your teen to eat more fruit? Make it more available in your home! Set it out prominently as a healthful snack choice. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests that if you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, use clear bowls to display the produce. Studies indicate that what you see, you are more likely to eat.

Also, parents, instead of harping on a healthy diet and potentially turning your teen away from good food – set the example yourself of health. Your children look up to you and will likely begin to follow in your footsteps.

See 10 Benefits of Peach.

Journal Reference:
Maryam S Farvid, Wendy Y Chen, Karin B Michels, Eunyoung Cho, Walter C Willett, A Heather Eliassen. Fruit and vegetable consumption in adolescence and early adulthood and risk of breast cancer: population based cohort study. BMJ, 2016; i2343 DOI:10.1136/bmj.i2343

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.