“S” is for Sugar.

One of the ads placed in New York Times in an effort to educate people about how soda can affect weight gain.

One of the ads placed in New York Times in an effort to educate people about how soda can affect weight gain.

Christopher and I both suffer from a love of chocolate. While we generally try to eat healthfully, this morning we enjoyed a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. There are many occasions when after dinner, one of use will comment that we could go for some of the dark sweet stuff. However, we know this about ourselves, and for the most part limit the amount of sweets in our home.

It seems that limiting our sugar intake, while some evenings can be a bummer, is a good choice, not just for us, but for families with children as well. A long-term study out of the U.K., that included 17,000 people, suggests that people who eat candy daily as children, may have an increased chance of committing acts of violence as adults. I hope someone lets Britany Spears know.

I don’t know if she gives her kids candy daily, but she was reported by some gossip sites to have spent $3,000 on candy in a single afternoon (much of that said to be for lollipops for her backup dancers) at the Sugar Factory in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, candy and sugar consumption in children has become such a concern, that some school districts are having to change policies to combat poor eating habits.

In an effort to help teach and reinforce healthy eating habits, New York City Schools have placed a ban on bake sales. This is in addition to limiting what can be sold through vending machines. Many states have similar legislation. A few years ago, California banned sodas in schools, and has limited items that can be sold to students based in part on the fat and sugar contents of the items. While some of the students are upset about the ban on bake sales due to the loss of revenue for club and athletic activities (bake sales are limited to once a month and only after the lunch period), the effort hopes to address the obesity issues many children face, and additionally researchers have found a correlation between health and  performance on tests.

However, not everyone supports changes such as these. The Center for Consumer Freedom, an organization funded by 100 companies, believes that efforts to educate people about their food choices and healthy eating is the work of “food police” trying to limit our freedom. They have gone as far as to make television ads that tout the benefits of corn syrup as “just like sugar,” and run ads in the New York Times that claim that people are trying to control our individual food choices by asking “Are you too stupid to make your own food choices?” Of course, they have no complaints about companies who are telling us to eat their food products.

The bottom-line is that people are allowed to eat what they choose. Efforts such as the bake sale ban, and the PSAs about the risks of high sugar diets are working to ensure that people understand the outcomes of such diets. Encouraging better eating habits is necessary to increase the health of our nation’s people, and apparently, we need such messages.

This week an NPR article discussed a report released by the CDC which shows that only one-third of American adults are eating the recommended servings of fruits (and they specify not fruit juice), and only 27 percent are eating the daily recommended servings of (not-fried) vegetables. The percentages decrease for teens. Perhaps the fact that they found that only one in five middle and high schools had fruits (not juice) and non-fried vegetables available to students is a signal that we’re not doing the best job modeling healthy eating habits.

Maybe we can learn from First Lady Michelle Obama’s scheduled appearance on Sesame Street, a follow up to her previous visit, for the November 10th kick off (of the show’s 40th anniversary) when she will teach about the importance (and tastiness) of vegetables while talking about gardening.

Cheers to eating more veggies,

Kerri

1 Comment

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One response to ““S” is for Sugar.

  1. Well, I am all for getting rid of the vending machines in schools. How did they get there in the first place? I did not have them growing up. I suppose there might have been some vending machines somewhere, but those were clearly for teachers and other employees of the school, not for students, and not placed where students could easily get to them.

    And we were not allowed to leave school to buy lunch somewhere else, except once in a while we went as a group, if you had earned the right to go with good grades, and if your parents signed a permission slip and gave you money. There was no unsupervised leaving the school and buying food elsewhere. Unless your parents came to get your for lunch, you ate what you brought from home, you ate what you could buy from the lunch room, you ate what you could buy from the occasional bake sale, or you ate something that you could trade from the other three. You did not buy candy and chips or go off somewhere and buy a hamburger.

    So that is all very bizarre to me anyway, and they need to but a stop to it.

    But getting rid of a bake sale is something else. It’s a bit sad, even if it does cut down on the amount of sugar kids are eating. I can’t think that it makes that much difference, compared with everything else. But I think that the loss of the bake sale would mean more than that, more than even the loss of money going towards the different clubs. I think that some of the kids will also lose out on some time with mom (or dad) spent making the bake sale items, maybe some of them would have learned to bake things themselves and now they won’t do that until much later, and some of them would have learned to handle money and a practical purpose for some of the math that they are supposed to be learning in class, and maybe some of them would start to get the value of a dollar and work ethics and all of that.

    And, yes, you get some of that by trying to sell candles at Christmas time (except for the bit about learning to bake), but that isn’t a year-round thing, and it isn’t quite the same.

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