Organic foods may not be better
- Group: Organic fruits, vegetables may not be healthier
- Eating organic produce can reduce exposure to pesticides
- Longer-term studies are needed, says researcher
The jury is still out on whether eating organic foods provides greater health benefits to children than conventional foods, concludes a report released today by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Based on an analysis of scientific studies regarding organic products, dairy products and meat, the report indicates that the health benefits are inconclusive.
“Current evidence does not support any significant nutritional benefit or deficit of eating organic foods over conventionally grown foods, and there are no well-conducted human studies that directly demonstrate health benefits or protection against diseases resulting from the consumption of an organic diet,” he says. .
The report cites a drop in pesticides in organic produce and a potentially lower risk of exposure to drug-resistant bacteria, but the necessary long-term studies don’t yet exist to show that eating pesticide-free foods makes people healthy. better health, says Joel Forman, a partner. professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and co-author of the report, in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.
It was released at the academy meeting in New Orleans. “We don’t really have a 100% answer,” Forman says.
A study published in September in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that organic products have no significant nutritional advantage over conventional foods, even though consumers often pay more than they do. For this report, researchers looked at 240 studies conducted from 1966 to 2011 that looked at nutrient and contaminant levels in food.
Sales of organic food and beverages totaled $29.22 billion in 2011, according to the Organic Trade Association of Brattleboro, Vermont.
Organic foods represent 12% of all fruit and vegetable sales in the United States, nearly 6% of the market for dairy product sales and only 0.375% of meat, fish and poultry sales, the group said.
In a statement, Christine Bushway, president of the trade group, agreed that more scientific research is needed to improve understanding of the long-term health effects of food choices. But she added: “It’s clear that organic presents an attractive option for consumers who want to reduce their family’s exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and reduce the risk to farm workers and their families of be exposed to toxic pesticides while maintaining agricultural productivity. “
Organic or not, parents should strive to ensure their children have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, Forman says. The health benefits of this type of diet “are very well proven and we need to do that first,” he says.
If you go organic, get “the best bang for your buck” by selecting organic versions of foods that retain the most pesticide residue, such as apples and grapes, Forman recommends. Save money on items like corn and onions, which contain the least. The report cites organic buying guides such as those provided by consumer reports and the Environmental Working Group as good references for consumers.