There has been news all over the place about the dramatically rising rates of obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes in kids. These numbers have spiked 25% in the past 5 years. As a mom, I do my best to give them healthy food, keep them active, encourage them to express themselves, teach them manners and responsibility. I also want them to have balance and not be left out of birthday parties or events simply because their mom doesn’t want them eating junk food. But in recent years the junk food, junk entertainment, junk relationship culture has gotten extreme. It’s not just birthday parties with chicken nuggets and neon cake, or Halloween and Easter with the focus on candy and chocolate, but every day at school my kids are rewarded and treated with candy. The school lunches are junk, the treats are junk, the parties are junk. What, really, are we teaching our kids? It’s a junk filled life.
School is the foundation for learning. We battle over evolution vs. creationism and completely miss the boat on what the kids need to learn. At some point, we need to get past how everything started and start worrying about how it will all end. Right now, it looks like it’s going to end in obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
It’s common knowledge kids learn by example. We talk of role models, imitation, role playing and yet we send our kids to school where they eat processed food at lunch with sugar infused milk and a super sized desert. Water breaks are limited to a 5 count at the fountain, every holiday and birthday is celebrated with a junk food feast and they are bribed for compliance and submission with candy at every turn.
To match this overconsumption of processed, high fat, high sugar crap, we’ve practically eliminated physical education with only 8% of elementary schools, 6.4% of middle schools, and 5.8% of high schools provide daily physical education to all of its students. (School Health Policies and Practices Study)
As a working mother, I have depended on the responsible care-taking of professional day cares and schools to ensure my kids are safe, healthy, nurtured and educated while I am obligated elsewhere. While I know there is very little I can do to influence the curriculum at the kids schools outside of changing schools (which I did often) I have always been uncomfortable with the way candy is used to incentivize and reward the kids..
We are selling our kids short setting them up for disease, frustration and sickness by using junk food and candy to control, reward and celebrate them.
It is well documented that sugar is addictive. And the way sugar is used to control, reward and celebrate the kids, is the same pattern of behavior used to create addiction in the brain. Studies have been conducted on animals and humans showing how the reward centers in the brain respond to addictive substances through repetition and reward.
Further, using treats takes away the value of much of the learning. The focus becomes the treat and not the behavior. Children no longer learn discipline and responsibility but are instead trained to value prizes and competition. Add to the fact that sugar has no nutritional value, causes tooth decay and hyperactivity and is now suspected to be toxic and addictive and what are we doing but setting our kids up for addictive tendencies, tooth decay and obesity?
“Opiods are chemicals in the brain which allow us to feel pleasure. Foods high in fat and sugar stimulate the release of opiods.” Weight of the Nation, HBO.
- Sugar is addictive
- Obesity is rising faster than we can keep up with it
- This generation will live a shorter life than their parents
- Our youth are being diagnosed with adult diseases like hypertension and heart disease as young as 10 years old
- Diabetes rising 25% in the past 5 years alone
- Eating disorders are on the rise
- Addiction is on the rise
- Poor health and nutrition is robbing children and families of their health and their future