Research continues to focus on the nutritional needs of overweight kids and teens. Suppliers and manufacturers are ideally positioned to transform this wealth of scientific evidence into safe and effective dietary supplements for retailers to offer. Need inspiration? Focus on these four areas:
1. Cover the basics
Overweight kids and teens may consume more calories, but they’re also more likely to be deficient in vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin B12, calcium, and other key nutrients. Excess body fat may also increase nutrient needs. One large population study reveals overweight kids and teens are twice as likely as their normal weight peers to be deficient in iron.
Supplement focus: A complete daily multivitamin helps fill potential nutrient gaps. Include the 13 essential vitamins along with key minerals in the range of 50% to 100% of the Daily Value.
2. Boost antioxidants
Research reveals overweight and obese children have significantly lower levels of all carotenoids, except lutein. One reason may be the excess fat cells themselves, which secrete bioactive compounds (adipokines) that increase free radical formation and oxidative stress. Antioxidants can help neutralize the free radicals before they cause harm.
Supplement focus: Provide higher levels of mixed carotenoids (up to 7,500 mg/day), as well as other antioxidants such as vitamin E (up to 200 IU/day) and vitamin C (up to 250 mg/day).
3. Don’t skimp on vitamin D
Research indicates that kids who fail to get enough vitamin D carry more fat around the waist and gain weight faster than children who have an adequate supply.
Supplement focus: Provide a higher amount of vitamin D3 (up to 600 IU/day).
4. Include fiber
Research indicates that overweight and obese kids—as young as five years old—have significantly higher blood pressure, blood lipids, fasting glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance. Although an adequate intake of fiber can help address many of these issues, kids fail miserably at getting enough. In fact, the typical daily intake is only 5 grams, yet nutrition experts recommend kids consume at least 5 grams—plus 1 gram for every year of age.
Supplement focus: Provide both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber promotes colon health, including regularity. Soluble fiber helps maintain blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels in the normal range while promoting satiety.
5.) Bottom line
A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are the therapeutic foundation to help overweight kids and teens achieve and maintain a normal body weight. Adding supplements designed to address their specific nutritional needs helps ensure an optimal intake of key nutrients while protecting kids and teens from the negative health effects of excess weight.