No responsible parent would consider buying their kids cigarettes or vodka, but did you know that foods that are high in fat and sugar such as chips and soda could be just as addictive to their growing bodies? In this video, pediatrician Nadine Burke explains how a junk food culture is directly contributing to the rising epidemic of childhood diabetes and obesity. Think that free refill of a soft drink is harmless? Think again.
Just Say No To Junk Food
From plastic toy tie-ins to cereal commercials during Saturday morning cartoons, big food companies are busy marketing junk food to kids. As Dr. Nadine Burke warns, “this has huge health implications.” What are you doing to help your children move from junk food to good food? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.
As parents and teachers, we can teach children how to evaluate media messages and educate them to make healthier food choices. Here a few suggestions:
- Teach media literacy. According to Common Sense Media, kids who watch more TV than their peers during middle and high school years have been shown to follow less healthy diets five years later. Similarly, children ages 7 to 11 who watched a half-hour cartoon that included food commercials ate 45 percent more snack food while watching the show than children who watched the same cartoon with non-food commercials. Download the Nourish Curriculum Guide to find the interactive activity “Analyzing Food Ads” which allows students to explore first-hand how marketing techniques influence what they eat.
- Nix the Twix. Introduce healthy alternatives at school. Organize school functions and celebrations that are free of junk food and soda. Serve real foods such as fruit, nuts and veggies, and serve water instead of juice. For your next fundraiser, hold a healthy snack sale instead of a bake sale. Find culinary inspiration for healthy treats at DoSomething.org.
- Shop better. In this video from Nourish Short Films, food journalist Michael Pollan shows how to navigate the grocery store and fill your cart with whole, fresh foods. Hint: shop the corners of the market, avoiding the center aisles where the highly processed junk food tends to resides.
- Get cooking. Mother and “Lunch Wars” author Amy Kalafa recommends that families commit to eating at least one home-cooked, wholesome meal a week and involve the whole family in the process, from shopping to cleanup. Another suggestion? Encourage your children to make their own lunches. Kids are less apt to be swayed by the junk food options around them if they take pride in the meals they’ve prepared themselves. Discover more tips in Cooking Together.