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Good Kids Bad Habits

Anne recently reviewed this book:  Any other suggestions for books about raising healthy kids?

Good Kids Bad Habits by Jennifer Trachtenberg, M.D. is filled with useful information, but it’s a book that works more as a reference than something you read cover-to-cover. The premise of it is that each component of your child’s life modifies their “real age,” and the author emphasizes throughout the evidence that shows the correlation between health choices in children and adolescence and the decisions they make as adults. “Real Age” is based on data about longevity, but comes across as a somewhat gimmicky feature of the book that ties it to the RealAge.com website.

Shorter chapters follow on exercise, hygiene, academics, self-esteem, and safety. While I found the tone kind of annoying (with lots of sentences like “That’s not good. No child should be a fitness failure.”), the content is solid and puts into perspective the relative impact of different health choices you can make with your family. She can take on issues such as weight gain more holistically because of the books breadth and then offer concrete advice about a process through which you can address the problem.

Dr. Trachtenberg covers nutrition particularly thoroughly, and details the different needs that boys and girls have from 2-18 years of age. This chapter has both information about the range of nutrients required and helpful suggestions about how to incorporate a better diet for your kids into your family’s life.

The advice is geared for a mainstream American parenting audience. She trivializes concerns about fluoride and immunizations, for example, and overlooks some of potential health advantages of organic food.  Another noticeable omission from the book given its organization around longevity factoids is that it never states the single factor that has been shown to have the greatest impact on longevity in American demographic studies covering the last century: the number of years of education.

This book offers a useful resource on a wide range of health topics. It might be especially valuable if you are thinking about revamping your family’s food choices and want specific, practical advice.

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