10/26/2012 08:12 EDT | Updated 12/26/2012 05:12 EST

Organic food offers few advantages for kids, says U.S. study

Another study has cast doubt on the benefits of organic food, finding “no direct evidence” that it leads to better health in children — contrary to what some well-meaning, high-spending parents might think.

The American Academy of Pediatrics this week weighed in for the first time on the supposed benefits of eating organic, but said it’s unclear whether parents are actually getting healthier food for the extra cost.

The report said organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as conventional foods — though they also have lower levels of pesticides and are less likely to carry certain types of bacteria, which may be important for growing children.

Organic foods also contain more vitamin C and phosphorus than conventional foods, but the report found scant evidence this provides any “meaningful” benefits.

In the long run “there is no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease,” said the study, which appeared Monday in the AAP’s journal Pediatrics.

Researchers say it is more important that kids eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products — whether organic or not.

“This type of diet has proven health benefits,” said Dr. Janet Silverstein, one of the lead authors of the study, in a statement.

“Many families have a limited food budget, and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce,” she added.

The study follows similar research released last month through Stanford University, which found no signs of added nutrition in organic food, though it also noted lower levels of pesticides and antibiotics.

The AAP study looked at organic meat, produce and dairy products. It also said organic farming is less harmful to the environment through, among other things, reduced use of pesticides and fossil fuels.