Why Parents are Helpless Against Junk Food

You’re in your thirties, forties and fifties.

You’re trying to eat better than you once did.

You’ve gained a few pounds since highschool, and maybe even have a medical condition. You’re not eating all the stuff you used to, whether it’s a refined taste you have acquired over the years, or limits you’ve imposed on yourself due to health considerations.

You’d like your children to eat healthfully as well. But that’s where problems  arise.

You’re not alone. If you are a parents to children under the age of 3, you still  have a chance to succeed because you control almost of every facet of their day, including meals. But it’s all downhill the minute kids go to preschool, kindergarten, grade school and onwards.

Here are a few reasons why it’s an uphill battle:

1. The law of the lowest common denominator. If your child has an apple for snacktime at school, but another kid is munching on twizzlers, what snack will both of them want tomorrow?

2. Childhood heroes sell (out). Movie tie ins are a very lucrative business for Hollywood. Entire licensing departments exist at all the major studios whose task is to sell the rights to use images in conjunction with sales of junk food. In just one example for this summer, Burger King is promoting Star Trek, Transformers, and G.I. Joe.

3. Convenience. The kids have to eat at school. You need to prepare their lunch every day. Or do you? What about some pocket change for little Johnny to get something at the school cafeteria? Or better yet, at the fast food diner conveniently located 2 blocks away from school.

4. Junk Food tastes good. It’s hard to argue with kids, whose taste buds are more responsive to sweet than complex tastes.

5. More convenience. You had a long day in the office, and the last thing you want to do is spend an hour cooking dinner in the sweltering kitchen when you get home. How simple, and cheap, it is to pick up a ready meal at one of the many drive-in windows spread around town.

6. The law of diminishing moderation. You don’t want your child to be totally clueless, plus the grandparents will have a fit if they can’t bring little Sally a chocolate treat when they come over this afternoon. What starts out as our good willed intentions to let kids enjoy a sweet snack once in a while, becomes once a day, and then once every few hours. Before you know it, things get out of control, and the majority of the snacks consumed by your kids are of the wrong kind.

What you need to do:

There is hope. But it requires strong willed parents who can help their children feel good about their food choices, and not feel like social outcasts.

It’s important to start your kids off right from the minute they’re weaned off milk/formula. Set rules that are reasonable (one chocolate snack a day) and stand by them. Show your kids how to prepare meals. Take them to a community garden. Teach them to read nutrition labels. Have them read about the risks of obesity and other diet related health problems. Eat together.

Talk with other parents at school. Talk with the teachers and school administration about improving the nutrition of school food.

If enough parents band together, perhaps law number one above will not be relevant anymore.

What do studios need to do: stop selling out childhood heroes to the highest paying burger!

What Junk Food Execs need to do: stop pushing crap at American kids. Think about your own children and multiply by 100 million!

And the government: Please, make them stop! You know they won’t do it on their own.

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  • http://valuethemeal.blogspot.com Geetha

    Parents are indefinitely fighting an uphill battle against the fast food industry; many attempting to control the eating habits of their children while McDonald’s manages to make arrangements with schools to provide Happy Meals to students with good grades! If there is any hope of curbing the skyrocketing obesity rates our children it will have to start with ending contracts between schools and fast food restaurants. It will also require that grass-root organizations fight to disband the corporate-political control within the fast food industry. Pushing government to cancel corn subsidies while implementing a taxing system on the fast food industry- forcing them to raise prices and stop undercutting the market! For more up to date information about holding the fast food industry accountable, please check out http://www.valuethemeal.org