Children’s Relationship with Food
My last post discussed how children are living a more sedentary lifestyle. This post will explore how children are learning to interact with food. Around the Thanksgiving table there are platters of food. The child gets a big plate and layers it with food because they want to try everything. While eating the child may become full but continues eating. When the child finishes they were full and bloated. Later, even though the child was still full, they have dessert. Dessert was the best because there were numerous pies and other baked goods, so the child got another full plate. The child eats the whole plate of dessert too.
A mother picks up her child from school. When the child got into the car, they said they got an “A” on last week’s math test, making the mother proud. While shopping the mother went to the bakery and told her child to pick one treat because of the great test score. The child chose a big vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting, sprinkles, and a sugar dog on top.
These scenarios depict how food has become a commodity (Warren and Smalley 40). In all cultures, food is important because everyone needs to get energy to survive. Nowadays food is often used as a reward and for celebrations (Warren and Smalley 32). There have been associations made between food, pleasure and approval that have become a norm (Warren and Smalley 32). Norms are usually hard to change. Celebrating with food is building strong emotions with food that are often not even recognized after a certain point (Warren and Smalley 32). Children are growing up in a culture where they are not learning the true importance of eating to nurture the body, but instead learn that it can help with ones emotions and can easily be bought (Warren and Smalley 38). This growing relationship with food is leading children to overconsumption and the prevalence of obesity (Warren and Smalley 32).
One way that is easily triggering children to over consume is proportion sizes, which have increased drastically over the years. If people were able to control and eat less even though there are bigger portions than it would be fine (Warren and Smalley 33). Studies have found that when children are presented with more food they are going to indulge and eat it regardless of whether they are full (Warren and Smalley 33). Ultimately the increase of portions results in an increase in calories ingested. This imbalance in the body leads to further weight gain (Warren and Smalley 33).
Another problem is the food that is being made and sold today. There is an increase demand for pre-packaged and prepared food and a lack of knowledge of what is actually in these foods (Warren and Smalley 35). Many of these meals have chemical preservatives to extend shelf life. These chemicals can have negative effects in the body that will make someone become addicted to the food. If someone does not know what a food is made from they should not be eating it and a child should definitely not be eating it.
These habits are causing the obesity epidemic. A problem is consuming food without realizing what it contains and not thinking about the effects of eating it. Portion sizes are designed for overconsumption and contributing to increasing consumption and has a detrimental effects on the body. These habits and food norms need to be changed because it is harming our youngest citizens. My next post will explore how to teach children proper eating habits.
Warren, Jacob C. and K. Bryant Smalley. “Always the Fat Kid: The Truth About the Enduring
Effects of Childhood Obesity.” New York: Pagrave Macmillan. 2013. Print.