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Breaking a Child’s Junk Food Habit

Posted Jun 13 2010 12:00am

Recently, as I have becoming more and more concerned with what I am eating and my own health, I have simultaneously become more and more concerned with what kids are eating and their health. I have heard some people tell stories about how they watch what overweight people order in restaurants and what overweight people put into their shopping carts at the supermarket. I personally have never been one to do this, and I honestly don’t really notice people’s weight. However, I am finding that I notice what kids are eating. All kids. Everywhere. You could definitely say that I am hypersensitive to it. While laying out at the pool today I couldn’t help but pause and look at a little girl who was bouncing around and chanting excitedly about popcorn and hamburgers. Why was she chanting about popcorn and hamburgers? I haven’t the slightest clue because there were not any around as far as I could see, but this didn’t dampen her spirits at the thought of them.

The average child is exposed to 10,000 TV food advertisements per year and the average child also doesn’t eat enough fruits and vegetables . However, even with all the constant flood of sweets and fast food ads that kids are bombarded with, the USDA stresses that children learn their eating habits by example .  Watching what their parents eat does play a large role in children’s eating habits, and this is why I am bothered when I look at my younger brother, Mark.  Mark loves candy, meatloaf, hamburgers and Taco Bell . He also announced to me three days ago that he “hates vegetables.”  He inspired my Pop Tart-driven post ranting about deceptive food labeling and my recent attempts at vegan “meatloaf” –which he did love, by the way.

You have to understand that I have a serious beef with Jessica Seinfeld and that I was with Anthony Bourdain when he deemed hawking doughnuts to kids as “evil.” Children should be taught to look vegetables in the face and then devour them and children should not be shilled junk food. I realize that I am arguing to separate points here, but I want everyone to know that I am concerned with what we are all doing about children’s eating habits and, namely, what my parents are not doing about the eating habits of my younger brother Mark. My father has no clue about eating healthy and no desire to learn it. My mother eats incredibly healthy, but has no desire to make the effort to see that her son eats this way because he is so resistant to it. I do, however, know that small changes can steer kids towards smarter choices , and want to see that Mark eats healthier. I have decided that when he goes to summer school I will be packing him lunches of  fruits, vegetables, and sandwiches made on whole grain bread with meat substitutes and Vegenaise . As for the rest of the kids out there, I can only hope that someone in their life will have my same resolve.

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