March is National Nutrition Month and, just in time, the New York Times Magazine has put a spotlight on just how hard it is to make healthy food choices — and to raise our children to do so. The expose into the food industry’s success at seducing our taste buds while leaving us craving more is well worth a read.
Yes, adults do ultimately have to take responsibility for what we put in our bodies. However thousands of food marketers work full time to make products irresistible, and most of us have jobs, families, and much more on our minds when we stop by the store at the end of a busy day.
And we certainly can’t expect our kids to have the discipline necessary to make good choices. As one anonymous parent commenting on the NY Times Magazine piece wrote,
It takes a lot of resources to say no all the time. Mentally, I have to believe in the fight enough to ignore his chronic nagging. Before I had kids living in THIS culture, I could not have imagined the chronic torment of having to fight off the power of these taste-engineered products and their perfect marketing. If you are lucky enough to send your kids to an elite private school where nobody eats this stuff, good for you, but the lower the SES, the more often kids see this garbage, on TV and in their friend’s hands, and the more they want it.
No wonder working parents fail so often. This is a battle that is rarely won without educated parents who have time and money. And yet, here we stand, waving the flag of personal responsibility, as we throw 90% of our children to the wolves.
This article and others, (including this post from a New York Times blog about a study showing a strong connection between sugar consumption and diabetes), are important for educating the public. With obesity rates at 36% for adults and 17% for children in the U.S., we need to do more very quickly.
What do you think the solution is? More nutrition education for the public? Government enforced labeling and regulations?
In the meantime, if you’re running into the supermarket, try to stick to the outside aisles of the store as much as possible.