What pediatricians might advise on organic food

The American Academy of Pediatrics wades into the organic food confusion with a paper out Monday to try to guide doctors in their discussions with families about what to eat.

It turns out, no surprise, to be an on-the-one-hand this, on-the-other-hand that discussion, with the first point of advice to pediatricians being to encourage patients and their families to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and low- or non-fat dairy products.

The paper in the journal Pediatrics, a composite of studies on organically and conventionally produced food, suggests that doctors review the academy’s report with families to cover nutritional, health, environmental and cost implications of their choices.

Drs. Joel Forman and Janet Silverstein, along with the academy’s nutrition committee and Council on Environmental Health, set out the arguments, noting that the organic foods market has grown from $3.5 billion in 1996 to $28.6 billion in 2010, according to the Organic Trade Assn.

Organic diets, the authors say, expose consumers to fewer pesticides, and organic farming has been shown to have less impact on the environment than conventional operations. But, they say, there is no evidence of “meaningful nutritious benefits” from an organic diet, and there are no good studies showing disease protections from one.


The paper notes that some studies have shown that families with children are more likely to buy organic fruits and vegetables than other consumers – so the advice of pediatricians could be particularly important.

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