Late Night Snacks Can Spell Trouble for Kids

Dr Julie Wei photo from website-295x300

Milk and cookies can be a comforting snack combo when you are ready to hit the sack.

It is something Dr. Julie Wei, Division Chief for Otolaryngology at Nemours Children’s Hospital, calls “Milk and Cookie Disease,” and it is why she encourages parents to carefully consider what children consume, especially close to bed time.But for some kids, that brief bit of late evening comfort can come back to haunt them in the form of reflux, accompanied by symptoms such as sore throats, coughing and stuffy noses.

Dr. Wei, featured speaker at a parent education night on June 17 at the Winter Park Community Center in Winter Park, has seen a number of parents with children suffering with morning sore throats, coughs and sinus issues. They may have been on a variety of medications, but they didn’t seem to get better.

About eight years ago, that prompted her to begin asking parents of her young patients what the children were eating and drinking throughout the day, and she began noting a link between these habits and their symptoms.

She found the symptoms for some went away when diets were modified, and she has been trying to raise awareness among parents ever since.

Of particular concern to Dr. Wei is the large amount of sugar and dairy items kids are consuming as well as when they are consumed. She said she is not trying to eliminate all of these items, but to work with families to come up with reasonable quantities and to avoid them close to bedtime.

She offers these other tips:

  • Pay attention to labels and tune into the amount of sugar your children are consuming. Cut back on the excess.
  • Promote water and have children cut back on juices.
  • Take a closer look at the nighttime eating habits of children.
  • Try to “close the kitchen” an hour and a half to two hours before bedtime.
  • When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, get all family members involved. It’s especially important for parents to serve as healthy role models.
  • Remember, what goes in your mouth, comes out in your health.

The event was hosted by Nemours, which operates its Child Care Obesity Prevention Initiative in local child care centers with grant support from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF).

To learn more about “Milk and Cookie Disease” and to read other tips for children’s health and wellness, visit Dr. Wei’s website here. Dr. Wei also is the author of the book, “A Healthier Wei, Reclaiming Health for Misdiagnosed & Overmedicated Children.”