Here it goes again.
The government’s crackdown on student lunches and junk food consumption continues. This time, it’s keeping the sight and thought of unhealthy foods out of our kids’ minds and stomachs on school grounds.
Will this really make a difference and get our nation’s kids healthy, keen and lean?
An Associated Press story on the front page of today’s Republican-Herald looks at how the Obama administration wants to phase out junk food advertising on sports scoreboards and anywhere else on school properties. First Lady Michelle Obama, whose “Let’s Move” campaign to combat child obesity marks its fourth year, said the move is to show that activity is not a fad and is “the new norm.”
So in other words, schools that serve Coca-Cola or Pepsi products at school functions can’t show that they do? What about Gatorade or Powerade? Sports drinks, yes, but what about all the sugar that comes in one bottle of it?
As a parent, I understand the purpose of promoting healthy eating habits. I’ve visited this subject a few times in the nearly six years I’ve been writing this blog. However, will keeping advertisements for junk food like soda, chips and the like out of schools going to deter children from eating or drinking them? I don’t think so.
Children spend nearly seven hours a day at school. Once home or out of the classroom, there is opportunity to pop open a can of soda or a bag of chips. Those children who are “packers” — opting to bring lunch from home instead of buying or obtaining meals at school — could very well pack a sugary drink or some other forbidden-for-sale snack. My daughter does, along with a fruit or veggie or dairy product like a yogurt tube. It varies, but it’s not entirely “junk,” and yes, I do watch what I buy and what I allow myself and my children to eat.
The parents of today grew up with these junk food signs all around them. So what has changed?
Family structures have different heirarchies, and perhaps there is no encouragement to “go outside and play” or to get involved in physical activities like dance, tumbling and sports. Technology has tidalwaved the world, with iPods, iPads and more enhanced video game systems. As a result, the only things that kids seem to be exercising these days are their thumbs.
There are solutions. What about chasing the kids outside for fresh air when it’s warm out? That’s what my parents used to do. Put down the tech stuff. Take a walk. Run. Play kickball. You get it.
As for the food, key word: MODERATION! Don’t sit down to a whole half gallon of ice cream. Take a scoop. Serve some of those snack foods in snack-sized bags. Don’t eat fast food every day of the week. Try healthier foods. My kids sat and ate a whole bushel of grape tomatoes after school and daycare, and my kids and their cousin devoured a bunch of grapes at my parents’ house. I could go on and on.
The bottom line is, at least in my parental opinion, it’s OK to eat something that’s forbidden once in a while. Hiding it at school won’t mean the kids won’t see it or have it somewhere else in their daily lives. If they do have it, serve in moderation.
Children learn by example. If parents show the importance of moderation, exercise and healthy eating, then the need to shade them from the familiar red Coca-Cola sign or triangular Doritos logos won’t be necessary.