Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Children's Nutrition Series

And now a message from my Inner Voice.

IV: "Moron! I can't believe you have not gotten that post up yet. You've known about this for what, a year or so?! Can you say procrastinate? Get with it ..."

Me: "Yeah, I know. I've been busy."

IV: "Busy? Not too busy for wine and duck fat ..."

Me: "Yeah, yeah ... i know."

IV: "While we're talking, what happened to that Pulitzer you were supposed to win by age 30? Hmmm?"

Me: "Oh ... uh ... can I go to sleep now? It's late."

Unfortunately, my Inner Voice has a point. A year ago, I became aware of what I was up against as a parent trying to raise a healthy eater. It's a bigger obstacle than you think. I started doing a lot of reseach on the topic including tackling the Institute of Medicine's 500-page volume Food Marketing to Children and Youth. Finally, I will get the series of posts done that will cover this topic in depth for all concerned parents.

The resounding statistic that seems to be appearing everywhere is a frightening one: The rate of obesity among youth has more than tripled in the last forty years. More than 9 million children are clinically obese with another 15 percent at risk for obesity. Type II obesity, once referred to as "adult-onset diabetes," has more than doubled among our nation's children.

The following series of blog posts will include these topics:

The State of Our Union's Children
A detailed overview of what trends are occurring in our children's diets, and the factors that contribute to the issues

Our Children Are What They Eat
A look at what our children are eating and the nutritional issues parents face.

Why Kids Eat What They Do (or Don't)
A look at all the sources of dietary influence on our children's food choices. This includes schools, parents, social activity, marketing, culture. The post will examine each contributing factor and how it affects our kids.

Food Marketing and Your Child
A Parent's Action List: We Shall Overcome
This topic belongs under the sources post, but it has become such a huge issue that it needs to be reviewed in depth. An estimated $10 billion is spent anually to market foods to children and youth. Often these marketing messages are targeted to pre-schoolers who are too young to be able to differentiate commercial messages from educational messages.

If you, or a parent you know, is concerned about these issues, please be sure to visit this site and send the link to anyone who may be interested. While the topic of childhood nutrition is appearing in the media regularly, I have yet to see anyone provide the whole background and the "why" and "what we can do about it." I hope to be able to provide this.

The reason my Inner Voice was kicking me so hard is because I just got an email about a fast food marketing approach called "Bookit" that is placed in 900,000 schools each year, reaching 22 million children. This year, the sponsor, Pizza Hut, will extend the program to pre-schools. You can find more information about this program and why the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is opposed to the program.


Alison said...

Thank you, thank you! I love these links! You da' best.

(and one of these days will you explain what makes you an Expatriate? Do you live overseas? Doesn't seem like it. Are you living overseas by living here? Do you feel removed for some other reason? Just curious).

Frugal Mom said...

Great post. We have that Book It program at our achool and they come home all the time. Why, I ask. The thing that makes me crazy is that most of the teachers in our school feel that giving rewards in the form of candy bars and other junk is a great idea. They feel it motivates the kids to get better grades and turn in more homework. What? Are they crazy? Good idea, teach the kids to make poor snack choices as well as load then up on sugar and then wonder why they are acting up in class. AHHH is what I say.

Frugal Mom said...

PS...thanks for the brown rice syrup idea over at cleaner plate. Im gonna try that and let you know how it goes!

The Expatriate Chef said...

You two are the best! A small army of moms could change the world I am sure of it.

Expat is a long story. I'll give you the short version. I traveled all over and lived in the Caribbean for some time as well. Mostly tiny fly specks of places on the globe. I did marine research (sharks), wildlife conservation writing and some other interesting stuff. The experience shaped my ideas about food quite a bit, the way people shop, local cultures and foods. I came back home with an idea of food both different from most Americans and very much in line with my life in a rural area.

This site was going to have more travel stuff in it, but, food took over. Issues took over. And, I love a good fight for something I believe in. I went broke writing about conservation, but still pursue it.

Frugal mom, let me know about the brown rice syrup. The "cereal bar lady" can be found at if you need advice on it. I am sure she would be helpful.

The Expatriate Chef said...

Ah yes, and BEING A MOM took over the site as well (Taute Cuisine series). Funny how much that all changes things. Would not trade it for all the exotic places on earth.

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