Thursday, April 04, 2013

Guest Post: Is This the World's Most Ironic Use of Candy?

If it's not, it's certainly a contender.

And when I talk of the normalization of candy I'm referring to the fact that society as a whole has gotten to a point where there's often zero effort made to find ways to celebrate, entice, entertain or reward with anything other than candy. Candy's cheap, candy's easy and candy always hits its mark.

But it's not particularly healthful now is it?

Imagine your surprise then if you were a University student and had applied to a program to become a Registered Dietitian via The University of Western Ontario's Brescia College and along with your acceptance letter came a pile of M&Ms to accentuate the point of their "sweet" offer of admission. And if you don't want to imagine it, here's a guest posting of a letter from a student who did receive this very package (her name's been removed so as not to cause her grief next year should she choose to accept her "sweet" offer).
Hello Dr. Freedhoff,

I'm a student currently in between degrees, trying to decide what path to choose next. I've been following your blog for the past few years. In that time, I've become more interested in food marketing and nutrition to the point where I think I would like to pursue a career towards improving public knowledge in those areas. One route to this end is becoming a registered dietitian, so I applied to Brescia University's Foods and Nutrition program (affiliated with Western University). This past weekend I received a package in the mail, reminding me to accept my offer and how to go about it. Their exact words: "A 'sweet' offer awaits you at Brescia!", were accompanied by a package of candy covered chocolates, like smarties.

This struck me as surprising; for although I've read many articles and seen examples on your blog of how kids are regularly exposed to this, I thought my age group was a little beyond bribery with candy, particularly in university. Apparently not. This school thought it was appropriate to send smarties to potential students, all aged 17+ (this program is actually known for being a popular second degree program with many applicants aged 22+), who had applied to the program to be educated about healthy nutrition. I'm even prepared to overlook the juice, cinnamon buns and strudels overcrowding the fruit tray served at the spring Open House, but this was surprisingly deliberate.

I understand that admission's services meant well and of course everyone likes candy surprises, but it does seem like a good example of how common unnecessary sugary treats are. To me, being offered admission to school, while certainly a positive achievement, doesn't constitute celebration with junk food. It didn't for my first degree. For the record, this particular program at Brescia is one of 4 programs in Ontario that are accredited by Dietitians of Canada. I just found it ironic and a little disappointing that such an institution would send candy to its students, who, in all likelihood, intend to pursue a career as a RD. Where is one supposed to learn about healthy food choices when even an accredited educational institution readily accepts candy as a part of all occasions big and small?
I just thought you might find that interesting.

UPDATE: Brescia College taking steps to immediately correct the unfortunate oversight. Post on Monday.