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Q&A about children's nutrition with nutritionist Angela Dowden - ANSWERS BACK

(59 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-Apr-13 11:15:14

We're running a Q&A this week with nutritionist Angela Dowden, who will be available to answer your questions on children's nutrition.

Do you worry about whether you're giving your kids the food that's best for them? Are you concerned about whether they're getting the right vitamins and nutrients from their food to keep them going throughout their day? Should your children snack between meals and if so what sort of snacks should you be giving them? Post your questions to Angela before the end of Tuesday 23 April and we'll post up her answers on Monday 29 April

Angela Dowden is a registered nutritionist and specialises in family nutrition. A freelance journalist, she writes for about health and diet for national newspapers, magazines as well as many national online titles. She is currently working with the makers of Ribena Plus, a range of no added sugar juice drinks with added health benefits.

This Q&A is sponsored by Ribena Plus

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Fri 19-Apr-13 22:27:17

Errm MNHQ?

I posted the above post as a previous poster had been asking about the difference between nutritionists and dieticians. Following the NHS advice I checked if Angela Dowden was indeed a registered nutritionist.

She is not listed as a registered nutritionist by the body that registers them at

There is also a rather interesting story about her here:Bad Science: The showbiz recipe for healthy eating

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 19-Apr-13 22:29:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 19-Apr-13 22:31:07

Oh balls. Sponsored by RIBENA! I am reporting my post and after ItsAllGoingToBeFines post I am not interested in having my question answered. sad How is Ribena a good example of nutrition???

pcbmc00 Fri 19-Apr-13 22:39:02

Hi my question is again about overweight children my daughter is 3 eats extremely healthy likes all veg and fruit but she is categorised as overweight using toddler bmi. Now she does have treats by grandparents etc. I'm very careful of portion size but if possible could you guide me on what a toddler should eat daily how many snacks etc/ treats per week is ok? Thanks

2012PP Sun 21-Apr-13 07:17:32

My son is 10 months old & eats pretty much everything (& doesn't have any allergies or intolerances).

When I cook, What should the 'meat/fish - to - carbohydrate' ratio be?


abuhamzamouse Sun 21-Apr-13 07:45:40

MNHQ can we have a q&a from a dietitian rather than a nutritionist please? :-)

jenniferturkington Sun 21-Apr-13 18:04:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Floweryhat Sun 21-Apr-13 19:12:13

Mnhq you should be ashamed. Ribena?!

Who you going to get on next week? How about a fast food chain?

<rolls eyes>

Maybe google "conflict of interest"?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Apr-13 17:47:55

Sorry for not getting back to you on this earlier. We have explained in the past the nature of commercial Q&As but appreciate that not everyone will have seen this and so we've now put together a page which we hope will explain why we run these and how they work. See Q&As explained.

We do understand that there's a long-standing hmm about the validity of nutritionists (v dietitians) but we felt in this instance Angela had the experience to answer the questions on this Q&A. However, we have asked the client to send us more information about her background for us to post on the board and we will do this as soon as we have it.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Mon 22-Apr-13 18:53:49

I have to say that I don't think ANY of Mumsnet's regulars are naive enough to ask a SPONSORED nutritionist for advice regarding their child's diet. grin

it would be great to have a dietitian on though.

Mads86 Mon 22-Apr-13 20:15:21

My doctor advised me to use extra virgin olive oil on my sons' dry skin condition, which I have done, and I have seen a slow but marked improvement over 3 weeks. I have also started to include a teaspoon into his food and he loves it - am I right to be doing this?

Shiraztastic Tue 23-Apr-13 13:12:08

"We will only host Q&As that we feel will be of use to Mumsnetters and we would not host a Q&A with any individual who we didn't feel was qualified to answer the questions. "

It is this part that causes the issue here. Oh, that and the bit about them not being allowed to plug products 'too heavily', as if somehow a small bit of marketing slipped in is more ethical than an obvious large amount hmm.

I do not think a manufacturer of these sorts of drinks has any part sponsoring a discussion about child nutrition, any more than a junk food manufacturer or a formula company. I just did some searching and discovered that ribena is owned by GSK of all people! They also make lucozade and horlicks. As for their "Ribena plus immunity support" drinks, I don't think I have enough hmm hmm to cover my view of that.

Question: what should kids drink? Answer: water.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 25-Apr-13 13:03:18

We've spoken to the folks at Ribena Plus who have responded with the following:

"You should drink everything in moderation and the makers of Ribena offer a range of drinks for the whole family, including the new Ribena Plus range with no added sugar and added health benefits.

There are two different types of Ribena Plus:

1) Ribena Plus for Immunity Support, which has added vitamins A, C and E and no added sugar in Blackcurrant, Apple & Peach, new Red Apple or new Summer Fruit (available exclusively in Tesco).  Each serving has 15 per cent of the RDA of vitamin A and E and 100 per cent RDA vitamin C

2) Ribena Plus for Healthy Bones, which has added calcium and no added sugar in Raspberry & Apple.  Each serving has 15 per cent of the RDA of calcium and 100 per cent RDA vitamin C

The makers of Ribena have also signed up as a partner to the government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal to demonstrate their commitment to encouraging people to eat and drink fewer calories".

"In terms of Angela Dowden’s qualifications, she is a registered nutritionist (with the Association for Nutrition with a degree in food science BSc (Hons) who has been published across many news & magazine titles. She was awarded Nutrition & health Writer/Broadcaster of the Year 2012, and is a published author, having written books about nutrition such as Are You Getting Enough?: Vitamins and Minerals for a Long and Healthy Life".

The Q&A is now closed and we've sent up 20 Qs to Angela and will post up her answers on Monday 29th April.

Shiraztastic Sat 04-May-13 19:28:50

BBC article on the pubic health responsibility deal highlighting some of the issues.

Viewpoint from Diabetes UK

Shiraztastic Sat 04-May-13 19:39:44

I like Great Ormond Street Hospital's take on what kids should drink more than Ribena's:

"The best drinks to slurp are water and semi-skimmed milk. These don't contain added sugar that can damage teeth. And milk contains important vitamins and minerals, like calcium."

Mind you, they don't have products to sell and give evidence-based advice.

What happened to Ms Dowden?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 09-May-13 10:09:15

Apologies for the delay in getting the answers back to your questions. They will be with us tomorrow and we'll post them straight up. Thanks.

DuchessOfPodd Wed 22-May-13 23:46:04

MNHQ?.....are you still waiting for the answers?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 23-May-13 11:08:33

Big apologies for the delay on getting the answers up. We are still waiting and we will chase again today and update you.

LaraMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-May-13 13:45:22

We finally have the answers back from Angela and I will be posting them up shortly.

AngelaDowden Tue 28-May-13 14:04:06


Frankly? What are your best power-packed easy meals for pre-schoolers. My DD 4 is shockingly reluctant to eat vegetables or anything challenging. I want some basics that will do her good while I work on improving her repertoire.

Hi Einsty, the staples I couldn?t have done without with my kids were pasta with pesto or tomato sauces (worth comparing salt content and choosing the lowest though). Ideally you'd make sure there was some protein in there (so chopped chicken or minced beef), though a handful of grated cheese on top can do the job. Frozen peas or a bit or broccoli or tinned sweetcorn are super quick and easy to add, but if that?s a stretch bear in mind that a tomato pasta sauce counts as a veg portion by itself.

In my experience of fussy kids and watching what kids eat at parties, carrot and cucumber sticks, sliced apples and grapes are probably the most liked and are very easy (carrot sticks are also a great source of vitamin A, which helps to support the immune system). Finally don’t feel guilty about using fish fingers, sausages or oven chips occasionally – they’re fine as part of a balanced diet.

AngelaDowden Tue 28-May-13 14:46:31


My dd(9) and ds(6) are both really fussy. They are getting better but the only meat dd will eat are chicken and sausages, and ds sausages and value ham. The only fruit and veg ds will eat are bananas, and carrott. Dd eats ready brek which I know has added iron, but i'm still worried how to get more iron into them and how much they should be eating per day.

Hi Cansu, It must have been a real worry when your daughter got measles. I’m not surprised she’s a bit low right now. To help, make sure she has a couple of daily helpings of protein (like chicken, fish, beef, Quorn®, eggs etc), as it’s important and often overlooked in a healthy immune system. Team that with as many varied fruit and veg as you can (I know it’s not always easy, but just do your best!) and you’re giving your daughter’s immune system a good helping hand. However she could probably also do with an age appropriate multivitamin supplement – or if trying to get her to take a supplement is difficult, you could include fortified foods and drinks.

AngelaDowden Tue 28-May-13 14:49:13


My DD is 20mo and has always loved cheese. She would eat it all day if I let her and will sneak it off the side if I turn my back for a second and bite a huge chunk out. It was her first word!
I remember hearing that as adults we should limit ourselves to a matchbox sized amount of cheese - but as children under 5 need more fat, is it alright for her to eat so much cheese? I try to limit it, but how much is alright, or is there no limit, as long as she is eating other nutrients?

That’s some cheese fiend! On the plus side it’s a great source of calcium for her growing bones and also (especially hard cheese) a good source of protein, zinc and vitamins A, B12, B2 (riboflavin) and folate. It does have high amounts of saturated fat though so I’d still suggest limiting it as once she gets beyond a medium sized chunk (40g, or not much more than a matchbox size) she’s well on her way to getting her suggested daily saturated fat limit without leaving much room for the other sources. Toddlers enjoy experimenting with different textures, so have you tried giving a pile of grated cheese as a snack (it goes further than cubes or slices) and perhaps teaming with crunchy raw veg, apples or grapes? Half fat cheddar is an option too, if she accepts it (I wouldn’t normally recommend giving reduced fat foods to toddlers, but half fat cheddar is an exception if kids really like to eat a lot)

AngelaDowden Tue 28-May-13 14:52:16


One of my DC has severe food allergies. He is allergic to all dairy, eggs, sesame, peas & pulses, nuts & peanuts. What healthy snacks can I give him to up his calorie intake? The only fruit I can get him to eat is the Ella's kitchen fruit smoothies. He's age 5.

Hi Likeaninjanow, in my opinion you should be referred to a paediatric dietician for specific help with your child?s diet as it?s really tough for you to keep nutritional needs covered when you have to avoid so many foods. I would urge you to progress this via your GP, but in the interim, a couple of snack ideas that spring to mind are home made potato or sweet potato wedges sprinkled with salsa and mashed avocado or mashed banana on top of rice cakes.

AngelaDowden Tue 28-May-13 14:55:43


Fliss, I think Dara O Briain said that dietician vs. nutritionist is a bit like dentist vs. toothiologist!

I'd better come up with a sensible question, now that I've said that! blush

DD1 is tiny for her age, underweight, poor growth (due to past cancer treatment mainly, but probably naturally small as well). She doesn't have a huge appetite, and no sweet tooth at all. DD2 is tall for her age, great appetite, not fussy about food at all, will eat anything, but is rather fond of cakes, biscuits, crisps etc as well as fruit and veg. How do I get extra calories into DD1 without giving DD2 more calories than she needs and without making it seem like DD1 gets all the "good stuff"? I'm really conscious of not making weight/calories etc an issue for either of them as they get older (they are 5 and 7 atm), so I try to give them the same meals and snacks etc (they notice if one has something and the other doesn't!). I think I need some suggestions for high calorie, non-tooth-rotting savory snacks that DD1 will actually eat before DD2 scoffs the lot! She likes crisps and popcorn, but I worry about salt content as she has some damage to her kidneys too.

Ah, now this is a hard one MavisSnapdragon, and I can’t say I envy you! But if you work with the things DD1 does like and DD2 is more ambivalent about, I think that’s probably the key. It’s also okay to give them an “either / or” choice of snack, which gives them a sense of autonomy but is more controlled than giving them the chance to choose! As your older daughter needs to put on weight I have no problem with her eating crisps, but like you mention, salt can be an issue so I’d very much recommend going for the salt free plain varieties, which still taste great. The same goes for popcorn, which can be very salty if bought ready made, but healthy if you pop your own. Some other ideas for high calorie but healthy foods include avocado, peanut butter, hummus and pesto. At meal and snack times always give then the own individual portions rather than putting a bowl in the middle of them and letting D2 eat more than D1! It does seem like perhaps an appointment with a local dietician might be a good option though, as their preferences and needs are so conflicting, to work out the best plan for family meal times.

AngelaDowden Tue 28-May-13 14:57:18


DS (age 11) has a milk allergy, and approaching puberty. How do I get his calcium levels up given he is reluctant to eat green leafy veg and doesn't really like tablets?
Also, he is on epilepsy meds that make him hungry (weight gain not an issue, he's very active and stick thin) any tips on keeping him full so he doesn't keep pestering me for food All. The. Timehmm.

Dairy allergies are not such an issue as they once were, as there are loads of replacement dairy milks like soya, rice, almond etc. All of these can be used on cereals, in hot chocolate etc and are virtually all now fortified with calcium. Nuts and oily canned fish such as tinned mackerel are also a good source, and great for even the fussiest kids is Ribena Plus with added calcium and no added sugar, which will help to top up this important bone mineral. As for keeping him full, I’m afraid I have no guarantees here as he is clearly growing fast!

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