Junkfood Science: The battle over our children

December 13, 2006

The battle over our children

A recent post discussed the unsound “healthy” school lunches being proposed by special interest groups here in America. Similar recommendations are popping up in England, where parents are speaking out and fighting back:

The battle of the lunchbox

Parents are quite capable of feeding their children - despite what the government's School Food Trust would have us believe. It’s bad enough having Jamie Oliver telling us how to feed our children without another celebrity chef joining in....

The School Food Trust is yet another government-knows-best initiative set up to propagate myths about diet and intervene into areas where government should fear to tread. It’s website states as fact the horrors of the epidemic of obese children. In fact, the level of obesity is generally overstated and the solutions are generally worse than the ‘problem’.

The one thing we do know is that people are living longer and healthier than ever before. The mortality rate for five year olds fell by 98 per cent from 1901 to 2001. In 1901, the UK average life expectancy was 46 years for men, and 50 years for women. In 2001 this had risen to 76 years for men and 81 years for women. Hardly doomsday scenarios....

If it sounds like I have a personal axe to grind, I do. In my children’s primary school they have embraced the healthy eating agenda with a vengeance. This includes inspecting the children’s lunchboxes and giving awards to the child who brings the ‘healthiest’ lunch to school, while telling those who have biscuits [cookies] in their box to bring an apple instead.

Author, Jane Sandeman, goes on to share concerns about the “healthy” eating and “need to be thin” messages inundating school children.

...If the lunchbox inspections are bad, the battle for young hearts, minds and stomachs is even worse. When I went to see an assembly that my daughter’s class staged for parents, the tour de force was six year old girls reading their poems about healthy eating. I found myself feeling queasy as they told us about how you must not eat fatty things, because it is important to be thin! The following week there was yet another healthy eating day which involved trying ‘healthy’ foods. Discussing this with friends in the parents forum that I run, it was clear that everyone had their own little horror story to tell of their child’s school cracking down on contraband lunchbox items or brainwashing them about the dangers of their food.

Call me old fashioned but shouldn’t school be trying to develop knowledge and imagination, whether through fantastic literary tales or inspiring science? Why instead are we infecting such young children with an obsession with their bodies?...These messages...imbue food stuffs with moral characteristics - sliced white bread bad, ciabatta good - and it wants to ensure that morality is enforced.

The inescapable “eat right and be fit” messages surrounding American children, discussed in a previous post, were again highlighted this week:

A Houston teacher issued a Biggest Loser challenge to her ninth grade students, giving cash rewards for the greatest losers. As she was weighing the measuring the students, she told reporters she believes she is educating them on healthy eating. The Houston Chronicle reported: “Although she admits her homemade weight-loss program needs a few tweaks...Last week a 14-year-old weighed in at 105 — down from her starting weight of 114.”

And Iowa Public Television is getting ready to broadcast a program for young elementary school children called “Snow White and the Seven Superheroes.” It teaches that by eating junk food — meat, corn dogs, cookies, caramel apples, hamburgers, and soda — the super heroes lost their power and that children will lose their superpowers and “suffer if they don’t eat healthy.”

Bookmark and Share