I just finished reading a TIME article that discussed the results of the first study covering the effectiveness of so-called “junk food laws” in schools. According to the study released online in the journal of Pediatrics, “laws strictly curbing school sales of junk food and sweetened drinks may play a role in slowing childhood obesity.” May? Oh, that’s encouraging.
Here’s what the study “supposedly” revealed:
- Children gained less weight from fifth through eighth grades if they lived in states with strong, consistent laws versus no laws governing snacks available in schools.
- Children who were overweight or obese in fifth grade were more likely to reach a healthy weight by eighth grade if they lived in states with the strongest laws.
While I’m all for working to reduce childhood obesity and obesity in general, I’m not a big fan of “laws” or “restrictions” as related to food choices and weight loss. Many studies have shown that positive reinforcement and a supportive environment and network have the greatest positive impact on losing weight and getting healthy. Rather than spending money on laws and politics, let’s put that money back into physical education, sports and other fitness-related programs that are constantly being cut from school budgets. Let’s show kids that eating healthy – being healthy – is a good thing. Let’s not make them feel guilt or as if they are being punished by enforcing such regulations. Doing so has negative connotations and will only lead to feelings of resentment and rebellious behavior.
The more I think about it, the more I actually resent these laws, as they seem very unconstitutional. The government has no place in limiting our food choices or telling us what we can and cannot eat. What is this, North Korea? Healthy eating starts at home. It is a parental responsibility to buy good foods for your children and monitor what they are eating and drinking. We, as parents, need to take responsibility for our offspring. We need to set a good example. We shouldn’t deprive children of all the fun things there are to eat in this world. It’s about moderation. They can have a Wicked Whoopies delightful cakes and still be healthy. Someday they will thank us for our efforts.
Unfortunately, you can’t mandate healthy eating or good parenting. We can, however, get rid of the governmental jackasses who build their reputations around illogical idealisms and laws. And we can continue to encourage and support our youth and families in how to live healthier lifestyles.