Do you know what your kids are watching?
Given our children's LOVE of sugary products, this issue piqued our interest: Due to the rising childhood obesity rates in the U.S., the FTC released a report in the NY Times detailing the strong influence of food marketing on kids. Of course, the major food companies responded with reports of their own to show that they are attempting to reduce the childhood obesity crisis by only promoting "better-for-you products" in their ads aimed at kids. (For instance, they say they are no longer marketing Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, Pop-Tarts, and Bubblelicious to kids.) But who's right?
Momlogic friend and registered dietitian Diane Henderiks gives us her thoughts on how these marketing companies are targeting our children:
"The funny thing is that the product manufacturers themselves are the ones who determine what 'better-for-you' is. It's called 'self-regulation' which is just what it says -- regulation for the benefit of self! Do you think these companies are going to sacrifice their profits for the sake of our children? I think not!
"Our children are bombarded on a daily basis by luring ads and marketing strategies that encourage them to whine and plead for unhealthy foods. 'Look mom it's Sponge Bob,' 'I want the cereal with Scooby Doo on it.' Sound familiar? This is not going to change, so what we need to do as parents is take the animated bull by the horns.
"I have taught my boys from day one that their favorite character is on packaging, fast-food restaurant windows, in a 'kids meal' or anywhere else just to get you to buy the product. By the time they were about 4 years old, they 'got it.' They still want junk food but understand that it isn't the best choice -- so it's always in moderation. We all know it's not easy to get kids to eat healthy, but you can't give up."
Here are Diane's suggestions for getting your kids to eat healthy:
1. Teach your kids about nutrition from a very early age. Even though you think they don't understand, they do and it sinks in.
2. Parents must be role models and involve children in meal-planning and grocery shopping. This helps them learn about different foods and gives them a role in the decision-making.
3. Make it fun! Get the kids in the kitchen whenever possible. Ask them what they like and talk about specific foods that are good or not-so-good for them.
4. Keep healthy snacks on hand in proper portions. Good options include fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk, smoothies, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, frozen fruit juice bars, whole grain crackers, etc.
5. Limit time at the computer, watching television or playing video games. Try using a kitchen timer and when 20 minutes is up, it's time to go outside!
6. Be persistent, but not insistent, in healthy food offerings.
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