Dietary experts warn mothers to be cautious about a controversial diet trend for their children, saying that following keto for kids could be risky, especially when it's done without proper guidance.
Rachael Hartley, a registered dietitian, told Insider that the low-carb diet might be good for adults, but it's not safe for children. An expert should monitor them if they are doing keto. She said that kids still need to eat whole food and produce and develop healthy eating habits.
NYU Langone pediatric dietitian Courtney Glick also does not recommend keto for kids since such food restrictions could create the wrong eating patterns and trigger eating disorders they could carry through adulthood.
The Keto diet also calls for cutting back on sugar (carbs), which is digested into glucose to fuel the brain and body to help in the children's development and growth. If children have low glucose levels, they could easily develop physical and mental issues that will affect their ability to perform better in school or play sports.
Studies have also shown that children on a ketogenic diet may lack folate, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and fiber, which puts them at risk for developing nutritional deficiencies. Some mothers might not be aware that if they cut carbs from their children's meals, they could limiting other food groups like fruits and whole grains, which are healthy foods.
Mom Slammed for Children's Diet
The warning comes as a mother from the U.S. has received criticisms for sharing that she puts her children, who are 11 and five years old, on a strict keto diet. Abby Durlewanger, who has a popular TikTok account, said in one video that she doesn't typically let her children eat watermelon since it contains high carbs and sugar.
However, Durlewanger said she added watermelon inside her children's lunch meals as a "surprise" treat. She also said that she prepares keto meals for her whole family, including their dog, and then proceeded to show examples of what goes into her family's lunch boxes or how she prepares the keto meals.
Durlewanger's statements drew many negative comments, with some saying they will call Child Protective Services for child cruelty. Some of the comments pointed out to Durlewanger that she shouldn't follow keto for kids if her children do not have health issues.
The Keto diet was developed 100 years ago at the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine for adults and kids suffering from epilepsy. Today, it's embraced by proponents as a way to lose weight in three to six months.
Doing the Right Thing
Durlewanger said that she feels she's doing the right thing because she doesn't want her children to become addicted to sugar or starch-rich foods as it could raise their risk for diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, and high blood as adults. The mother said that she's still responsible for her children's diet until they are 18 years old. She also called out the critics online.
“People act like I’m giving my kids alcohol rather than keto-friendly foods," the mother told New York Post, adding that she receives more than 100 comments every day, including death threats, because of what she feeds her family.
Durlewanger also clarified that she has the approval of her children's pediatrician when she placed them on keto.
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