Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Organic food not necessarily better for children: experts

Organic fruits and vegetables are not necessarily safer or more nutritious than conventional foods, pediatricians have claimed.

Parents who want to reduce their kids' exposure to pesticides may seek out organic produce, but science has not proven that eating pesticide-free food makes people healthier, the American Academy of Pediatrics said.

"Theoretically there could be negative effects, especially in young children with growing brains," the Daily Mail quoted Dr. Janet Silverstein, a co-author on the report, as saying.

Yet Silverstein, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, added that rigorous scientific evidence is lacking.

"We just can't say for certain that organics is better without long-term controlled studies," she said.

That study concluded that while eating organic fruits and vegetables can reduce pesticide exposure, the amount measured in conventionally grown produce was within safety limits.

Since organic foods tend to be costlier, a good strategy for penny-pinching parents concerned about pesticides, is to buy only organic versions of foods with the most pesticide residue - including apples, peaches, strawberries and celery, Silverstein said.

But the pediatricians group said that higher prices on organic foods might lead some parents to buy fewer fruits and vegetables over all.

They fear this is not a good strategy since both have health benefits including reducing risks for obesity, heart disease and some cancers.

Parents should aim to provide their families a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not, along with plenty of whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, the report said.

The report was published online in Pediatrics.

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