The Western Perspective; How Has Modern Food Shifted Childhood Health?

Our children are living in a modern world and they are consuming “modern food.” How does “modern food” play a role in childhood health? Is it affecting them positively?

Industrialization leads to poorer quality foods

Usually, technological progress and industrialization lead to an economic boom but can this be a negative point when we apply it to our overall health. Highly industrialized farming practices can give high crop yields and low-cost crops, but this requires a heavy use of pesticides and various chemicals. Industrialized and chemical farming practices have in many ways negatively affected our youth.

Studies have shown that chronic exposure to toxins in food leads to a plethora of health problems in children such as an impaired gut and an overtaxed immune system. These easily accessible, highly processed foods are becoming more common in our children’s everyday diet. This poses many questions regarding the current decrease in overall childhood health. Sadly, many children are now experiencing chronic health problems.

This has led to utilizing health information medicine that emphasizes a diet consisting of clean and healthy foods to address these issues that face the coming generations. The prevalence and intensity of chronic health problems among youth is unprecedented. The modern food dilemma is created by highly processed food and industrially produced meat and dairy.

Some of the monsters that modern food has created include the following: food allergies, food sensitivities, asthma, eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and many more. In the U.S., we face a current rise in the number of chronic diseases in children. In the last two decades, there has been a 50% increase in children with food allergies.

The issue is not only processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugars, and empty calories, but also foods that have been treated with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. The rise in chronic diseases has been linked to the creation of agro-chemical technologies. The traditional approach to medicine has not been able to stop or reduce this recent rise in chronic health problems. Traditional medicine may not have been developed to address these diseases or their causes because this dilemma was not present in previous decades.

A lifestyle solution for children

Many healthcare providers are alarmed by this prevalence in pediatric patients. Healthcare providers are now investing time and research to develop programs and treatments that are focused on “whole person health.” Lifestyle programs have become more well-known and successful. Doctors are starting to switch their focus to functional medicine; to create strategies to combat diseases caused by food-based chemical toxins.

Modern medicine is facing a new wave of chronic diseases in children, and healthcare providers are becoming aware of the power of functional medicine and preventative care. Also, society is conscious to this spike in chronic diseases in children, and they want to conquer this dilemma by education and lifestyle. The “driving force” of our research should be the health of our youth. Childhood health can be shifted to create a thriving and robust future through education, research, and leadership. A healthy life is the key to a healthy future.

Our responsibility to children

As members of society, we can make a difference in children’s lives by encouraging those around us to become aware of the health needs in children. We can start by creating a healthy lifestyle for children. Making healthy snacks fun and innovative for children is one way to promote childhood health. It is important to build a positive eating environment for children. Also, children thrive when we use positive visual aids. Here is one creative plant-based snack for kids!

Silly Apple Bites by Fork and Beans 

Prep time: 15 mins /  Serves: 8 Silly Apple Bites


  • 2 green apples, each quartered
  • sunflower butter
  • 32 sunflower seeds
  • 2-3 strawberries, sliced

1-2 homemade googly eyes per apple bite


  • Cut the middles out of each quarter of the apple to create a mouth. Don’t worry about perfection, you are filling this gap with sunbutter anyway so if you cut too deep, you can always just cover it up and no one will know.
  • Coat the inside of the cut gap with a filling of sunflower butter.
  • Place 4 sunflower seeds on the top of the “mouth” for the teeth.
  • Place 1 sliced strawberry inside the mouth for the tongue.
  • “Glue” each eye above the mouth with a dab of sunbutter to stick.
  • Serve with a smile.


Serving size: 1 Apple Bite (with no googly eyes) calories: 40g fat: 1g carbs: 4g sugar: 5g sodium: 1mg fiber: 1.4g protein: 1g

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Raeann Leal

Raeann is a graduate student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health pursuing her MPH in Lifestyle Medicine. In her free time, Raeann likes to cook unique and healthy dishes, read relevant and recent research articles related to diseases and their cures, and experience the outdoors.

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