Newsweek Botches Advice to Parents

A recent article from Newsweek by Melania Juntti [11 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Kids] recklessly includes canned tuna among foods parents should not feed their children.

This is not only wrong, it’s counterproductive—even dangerous—advice for parents of growing children. If Newsweek advised mothers to forego the usual suspects in the food wars—sugary drinks or fatty snacks, say—kids may or may not benefit. But no harm would be done.

But when parents keep one of the most convenient, affordable, and nutritious sources of omega-3 fatty acids away from their children, they risk impairing their child’s cognitive development and their own cardiovascular health.

As the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN notes: “Fish oils in fatty fish are the richest source of a type of fat that is vital to normal brain development in unborn babies and infants. Without adequate amounts of these fatty acids, normal brain development does not take place.”

Blake, a Clinical Associate Professor at Boston University, is right to list species like swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish—which, along with shark, are the only four fish the FDA recommends pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children avoid.  But she hurts public health by baselessly lumping canned albacore tuna into the same category. The reality is many young children, and especially pregnant women, aren’t eating nearly enough fish as it is. Needlessly scaring them will only exacerbate the problem.

Indeed, it’s exactly this kind of misguided and confusing advice that has prompted government regulators and nutrition experts to search for more accurate, intuitive, and effective ways of communicating the importance of seafood-rich diets to growing families. Instead of trying to scare women and their young families away from eating fish, Juntti should would better serve her readers by joining that effort.