Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Citing reasons ranging from the childhood obesity epidemic to heightened diabetes, liver problem, and high cholesterol risks, a group of researchers has published a commentary in the journal Nature urging the government to regulate sugar in the same way it regulates alcohol and tobacco. Journalist Christopher Wanjek reports on LifeScience.com:
The researchers propose regulations such as taxing all foods and drinks that include added sugar, banning sales in or near schools and placing age limits on purchases.
Although the commentary might seem straight out of the Journal of Ideas That Will Never Fly, the researchers cite numerous studies and statistics to make their case that added sugar — or, more specifically, sucrose, an even mix of glucose and fructose found in high-fructose corn syrup and in table sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beets — has been as detrimental to society as alcohol and tobacco.
[Robert] Lustig, a medical doctor in UCSF’s Department of Pediatrics, compares added sugar to tobacco and alcohol (coincidentally made from sugar) in that it is addictive, toxic and has a negative impact on society, thus meeting established public health criteria for regulation. Lustig advocates a consumer tax on any product with added sugar.
Among Lustig’s more radical proposals are to ban the sale of sugary drinks to children under age 17 and to tighten zoning laws for the sale of sugary beverages and snacks around schools and in low-income areas plagued by obesity, analogous to alcoholism and alcohol regulation.
Read on for Parents’com’s High Chair Times blog’s take on the proposal, and Heather’s question: What about artificial sweeteners?
Image: Sugary sprinkles, via Shutterstock.
Friday, January 27th, 2012
Whole milk and white bread are among the casualties of a set of school lunch changes the USDA announced this week. The infusion of $3.2 billion of federal funding for the National School Lunch Program intends to offer children lunches higher in whole grain, vegetables, and fruits, and lower in fat and sodium. The lunches will also monitor portion sizes in a way that leaders hope will help curb the childhood obesity epidemic that affects an estimated 17 percent of American children and teens. Each lunch will cost a projected 6 cents more than current school lunches.
The changes are meant to appeal to kids’ palates as well as being good for their bodies. According to the projected new menu, oven-baked fish nuggets will replace breaded beef patties; whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce will replace hot dogs; and bean and cheese burritos will be replaced with turkey submarine sandwiches. Pizza day, a sacred school institution, will survive, but the cheese pizzas will be served on whole wheat crust, accompanied with baked sweet potato fries rather than the tater tots of yore.
The new regulations are the first changes to national school lunch policy in 15 years, the result of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The changes will begin to be phased in next fall, and will be fully implemented over 3-5 years.
Diane Pratt-Heavner, spokeswoman for the Maryland-based School Nutrition Association, told MSNBC.com she applauds the changes, but encourages parents to participate in the process of encouraging their kids to make healthier food choices. “We all have to work to get the kids to make these healthier choices,” she said. “Students are more apt to pick up a fruit or vegetable in the lunch line if they have been introduced to those foods at home.”
Image: School lunch tray, via Shutterstock.
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
A new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association associates prolonged television viewing with increased risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, joining smoking and lack of exercise as major risk factors for those diseases. Parents can take note of the findings in light of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that kids under 2 watch no television, and older kids watch no more than 1-2 hours each day.
Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and the study’s co-author, told The Boston Globe that the average American spends 5 hours a day watching television, possibly putting their health at risk in the process:
“There’s something unique about TV watching,” says Hu, that sets it apart from other sedentary activities, like reading a book or tapping out e-mails to friends. “People tend to eat while watching TV,” he says. “They see commercials for junk food and sugary beverages, and it’s part of our culture to eat chips and beer when watching a sporting event….It’s almost completely passive and is probably the best marker of a sedentary lifestyle — the couch potato syndrome.”
For more, read one pediatrician’s insight on whether our kids are watching too much television.
How do you handle television viewing with your kids?
(image via: http://www.fashioncentral.pk/)