Thursday, October 10, 2013

Even Little Kids Know That "Kids' Foods" Are a Bunch of Sugary Bulls*&!

Thanks to my friend and Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing, the University of Calgary's Charlene Elliot, for sending me her 2011 journal article on what actual kids think about kids foods.

They think what I think - that kids foods are generally sugary junk food designed to appease children.

Some quotes,
"Moderator: When you think of kids’ food, what do you think of? Why?

– Junk food! (Grade 1)
– Junk! (Grade 1)
– I think sugary stuff…cause lots of kids like sugar. (Grade 1)
– Um, it makes me think of candy. (Grade 3)
– Candy and chocolate because they are unhealthy and no good. (Grade 1)
– What comes to my mind is junk food. Well, it’s not just for kids but kids usually enjoy it because it’s sugar and kids love sugar. (Grade 3)
– Cookies and candies and that kind of thing. It’s food thatkids appreciate. It’s better. (Grade 3)
– Lucky Charms because kids like, um, sugar. (Grade 1)
– All of these great cereals…because it’s all like sugary!(Grade 3)
– I don’t know…I think some foods are made for kids… Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Alpha Bits…because they have, um, pictures of characters on them. (Grade 5)
– Well, I think that kids’ foods are like stuff that you see on TV, like pretty much comic characters. I mean like the Dora would be good for little kids, and the Mini Chefs…and you just think of mini and you think of kids. Kids’ food would mean food that you kind of either have more sugar in them or be like Mini Chefs that have the animal shapes and stuff. (Grade 3)
And all of this leads me to my colleague Dr. David Katz' recent editorial. It's worth a read (they don't call him the poet laureate of medicine for nothing), but the gist of his message is his call to action to end the practice of kids' food and the establishment of a symbolic day of national kid food boycott. Here's my favourite line from his tremendous piece,
"Most mammals seem to take the basic care and feeding of their offspring very seriously. Most mammals seem to recognize childhood as the time to cultivate the dietary aptitudes and attitudes that will shape a lifetime of sustenance. Our own species, or at least its currently prevailing culture, seems inclined to treat the feeding of our children as something of a joke. We seem inclined to confront the prominence of junk food in the diets of our children with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink, as if it were at worst cute—at best, a legitimate food group in its own right."