Our Thriving Children

Planting the seeds for lifelong success

Stop the Health Food Madness Before We Harm the Children

Food is a common battleground for children. Obesity rates for children in the US have skyrocketed over the past few decades. Paradoxically, controlling food intake and talking about it with children actually lead to worse, not better, eating patterns. Here's why and what to do instead to create healthy eating in children, the base for lifelong healthy outcomes. Read More

"Food madness" is caused by schools, restaurants, and parents

Forget obesity in this comment. That is not our issue!

We have two grandsons and a granddaughter (in two families) ages 7 to 10 who are lean,active,beautiful,but have PREPOSTEROUS eating habits. We believe that kids, long after preschool & primary, are being catered to with a very narrow range of food options -- pizza, chicken fingers/nuggets, hot dogs, hamburgers, mac & cheese, and a couple of others. Catered to at schools, in restaurants, and in the home. Not that these are all bad foods, but these absurdly limited food choices then dominate what is served on the dinner table for a family meal, as well as what they will eat outside the home. Limited taste for vegetables is common, but also there is a narrow range of meats/fish and worst of all, a general intolerance for new foods of any kind.

Perhaps there is a kid cabal that decides what is "good" for them to eat? How did this happen?

Over time this evolution in kids' food tastes has been nonsense. It should not be necessary to wait for a "child" to be 20 years old before he/she learns to eat real food. And in the meantime, it makes no sense for childrens' flawed food tastes to dominate the family dinner table for so many years.

response to comment

You are not wrong. And it goes back to the point of the posting. Parents model for their children. They shop, prepare food and set up meal time rituals and habits. Children follow these established rituals. In the photo for this article, the child is preparing vegetables. Involving children in food preparation and cooking is important as well. The routines, rituals and practices around food can get set up well by parents, with room for children to choose within a broader range of foods. And you are right- schools also can play a healthy role in this. My youngest attends a public school where they plant and grow organic vegetables. Our entire family now eats a wider range because of his involvement in this and introductions to new vegetables I had never heard of!!

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Tovah Klein, Ph.D., is the director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and an Associate Professor of Psychology. 

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