American Academy of Pediatrics weighs in on organic foods

NEW ORLEANS—Parents know it is important for their children to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, lowfat dairy products and whole grains, but it’s been less clear whether spending extra money for organic foods will bring a significant benefit to their health.

A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that organic foods aren’t any safer or more nutritious for children than conventionally produced foods.

“This information is especially useful for families concerned about food safety and struggling to make ends meet,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

According to Dr. Janet Silverstein, one of the lead authors of the report, it doesn’t matter whether children eat organic or conventional foods, as long as they maintain a healthy diet.

The AAP conducted an extensive analysis of scientific evidence surrounding organic produce, dairy products and meat. Its conclusions are mixed. While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which can be significant for children. In the long term, however, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease.

“At this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime, though we do know that children—especially young children whose brains are developing—are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures,” said Dr. Joel Forman, a member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and one of the lead authors of the clinical report.

If cost is a factor, families can be selective in choosing organic foods.

“Many families have a limited food budget, and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce,” Silverstein said.

The AAP found no individual health benefit from purchasing organic milk, but emphasized that all milk should be pasteurized to reduce the risk of bacterial infections.

Contact Banks at 804-290-1114 or the AAP Department of Communications, at 847-434-7877.

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