Kids and Junk Food: New Research Suggests Strong Correlation

Today, ABC reported that  junk food is about half a kids’ caloric intake:

“Researchers from the National Cancer Institute found that nearly 40 percent of calories consumed by children ages 2 to 18 were empty calories, the unhealthiest kind of calories.”

Half of these calories came from the following six foods:

  • Soda
  • Sugary fruit drinks
  • Grain desserts, such as cake, cookies and donuts
  • Dairy desserts such as ice cream
  • Pizza
  • Whole milk

The big debate, as posed in the ABC article, is where the blame lies.  Is it the manufacturers fault for making “bad” food taste good? Or are parents to blame in making poor food choices for their little ones? Education, or lack thereof, may also play a role.

My  personal belief is that at some point in time, the buck stops here. I see commercials for McDonald’s every day of my life, but that doesn’t mean I have to race out to the big arches and pick up a happy meal for my little boy, Luke. In fact, I am trying to avoid this predicament for as long as humanly possible.

I’m doing what I can to teach Luke about ingredients lists on packages, what’s healthy and not, and why he should eat his veggies at dinner. Perhaps this is why he’s the self-proclaimed “nutrients man!” Though we laugh at him when he suggests that chocolate chip cookies “contain lots of nutrients,” at least conceptually understands what I’m trying to teach him. And he’s a pretty darn adventurous and healthy eater as a result.

What do you think? Where does the blame lie?

I am a big believer that cooking healthy, whole foods at home is one HUGE way we can positively influence our children’s eating habits — as well as our own!!

Melinda Hinson