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Friday, December 3, 2010

Weight Loss: Childhood obesity and the new food safety law

I am not, by nature, an overly political person. I write a blog based on food and health, not news or politics, and that's the way I prefer it. It isn't that I "don't get it" or "don't care", I have very strong opinions and I try to stay on top of the news...but politicians will always let down, secret agendas will always be present, ulterior motives will always sneak about the edges of Washington, and I much prefer cooking to all of it.

But there are times when the shenanigans in Washington find their way into the health, wellness, and food sectors, and it seems one of those times is upon us now.

Congress has passed a bill concerning child nutrition, a bill that should overhaul school lunches and address some of the childhood obesity rate concerns. First Lady Michelle Obama has championed this bill as a facet of her "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity. Frankly, things needed to be changed in this country...if you've ever seen a school lunch, you know exactly what I mean. I wouldn't feed those processed, refined foods to my animals, let alone children.

But that isn't where it ends.
The fact of the matter is that we simply can't rely on government measures to protect our health or the health of our loved ones. Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely in favor of anything that works toward increasing the nutritional awareness and health of the American youth, but realism is important, and realistically, it's the responsibility of the adults in these children's lives that they eat nutritionally balanced, healthy meals, that they understand portion sizes, and that they know why things like soda and fast food are bad, not just that they aren't allowed to have them.

If you can pack a lunch for your children, you should. Sending them to school with healthy, nutritious food in proper portion sizes is one of the best things you can do for them. Of course, you can't guarantee that they wont trade their whole grain cookies for someone else's Twix bar, but as long as the rest of their diet is balanced and healthy, it shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Children learn their habits from the adults in their lives. If you teach them to eat correctly, it will sink in, even if they don't adopt it for themselves until young adulthood. It isn't about denying them food, but showing them that certain foods are better than others and explaining why. How can they make informed decisions if the only reason that they have behind your choices is "Because I said so"?

I think that it's good that congress finally passed this child nutrition bill. I think the anti-obesity program is one of the best things to happen since the Obama administration took charge. I think that finally updating these laws was a necessary step. However, I do think that childhood health, nutrition and awareness starts at home, that its a part of a parent's job to instill these things in their child's mind, and that if parents were more responsible with what they fed their children, the childhood obesity epidemic would begin to abate.

As I've said before, as I will certainly say again, America's obesity problem has more than one cause and therefore will require a multi-faceted solution. But every step we take toward that solution, no matter how small in scope, is a step in the right direction.

Happiness and Health to all of you during this holiday season!

The Calm Cook

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