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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fast-food, Childhood Obesity, and Food Labels

With the Nation scrambling to find solutions to help end childhood obesity, with virtually no success, they’ve decided that making fast-food chains display the amount of calories contained in each of their menu items will end childhood obesity. ‘Their’ hope is that people will shy away, or cut down because of the visible information. I think not. People could find that information easily if they wished, but I believe you either know it already, or don’t. And if you don’t know the information, you don’t care to either. Take for instance, Mr. B. He was a fast-food junkie until we got together. Now, every so often, he still partakes. He knows full well what he’s doing, and he doesn’t care. It’s his choice, but he knows exactly what he’s consuming in calories as well as fats, cholesterol, etc.

My daughter is very versed on label reading. Both types of labels too, labels on foods, as well as the grocery store shelf labels that indicate price per unit. We actually had to teach one of my daughter’s best friends how to read the label, and it was a very enlightening experience for her. The friend arrived at our house happy as a clam because she was drinking a Fuze drink, and thereby claimed she was drinking a healthy fruit beverage. My daughter shot me a look. She then explained to her friend that the drink the friend was so in love with, wasn’t as good as she actually thought. My daughter had her friend look at the label. The first shock came when the friend realized the drink was less than 10% juice. Then we showed her how to read the calories. She wasn’t too upset when she read the initial calorie count, but my daughter, bearing a smug smile pointed out, “Okay, so how many servings are in that bottle?” That was when it all hit home to the friend. She was shocked that there were over two and a half servings – each over 100 calories, in just one bottle. From that day, the friend swore off Fuze.

So, here’s my solution to the childhood obesity problem – education. And I mean that in the traditional sense of the word. Most parents are not aware of the calorie intake for a normal adult, much-less a child. Add to that the fact that most adults find that there is not enough time to prepare healthy meals at home from scratch (or don’t know how to), which then equals the parents purchasing the ‘quick fix’, the easiest (and most unhealthy) route – the processed, prepared food stuffs offered in groceries, or at fast-food at a drive thru. Add to that the fact that most adults don’t eat anywhere near enough fruits and vegetables in a given day. Also, don’t forget children learn by what they see everyday! So, do you eat your veggies? Being obese also puts the children at risk for greater health concerns such as diabetes and heart attacks.

Here’s my point and suggestion on how to control childhood obesity. My simple, no nonsense plan is this Home Economics classes. Seriously, what ever happened to home-economics classes? Gone. Stricken from the school curriculum. I’m sure if you are at least my age, or older, you probably can recall sitting in a home-ec class sometime in your educational history. There, not only would you learn to boil water, and learn to cook meal, but you’d also learn to grocery shop within a budget, and learn how to eat a balanced diet. So, what ever happened to the old home-ec class? I guess ‘they’ felt that these types of things should be taught in the home. Guess ‘they’ were wrong though, since so many children and younger adults haven’t a clue. Sure, exercise plays a large part in losing weight, but you can run 10 miles a day, and if you’re eating nothing but empty calories, and an excessive amount to boot, there isn’t an exercise in the world that will help you! To lose weight you must have both, a proper diet, as well as exercise. My plan is simple – bring back the home economics classes into schools. Teach children how to live a healthy life!


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