In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘food’

If McDonalds retires Ronald, perhaps it shouldn’t stop there…

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 19, 2011

A group of medical professionals is calling for McDonald’s to get rid of Ronald, citing the childhood character’s link to the the childhood obesity epidemic. 

There is something wrong with this on two levels. To begin, if we were to get rid of Ronald, why stop there? It doesn’t seem fair to single out one marketing character. Should we also tell Disney, Nickelodeon and every single cereal company that they’re not allowed to use mascots to sell their products? No–this is not the way a democracy works! I’m all for protecting kids against inappropriate marketing, but this goes too far.

Of course we need to protect our kids, and make sure that big business act in the best interest of the public, BUT we also need to place real responsibility on parents to educate their kids about marketing and product placement. Most importantly, parents need to say NO to their children when they don’t believe eating a particular food isn’t healthy or necessary at that moment.

It is always easy to blame someone else; it’s much more difficult to take responsibility. Ronald has been around for many years prior to the obesity epidemic. It’s only in the past twenty years or so that parents have started to be afraid to say NO to their kids–worried that they may have a tantrum, or their child might feel alienated won’t be their friend anymore.  Parenting is not always easy, in fact sometimes it’s downright difficult, but in the end, your child will be a stronger person if you role-model and teach taking responsiblity for one’s own behavior.

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The FDA is finally wising up about serving sizes!

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 9, 2010

It’s taken a long time, but maybe, just maybe, the FDA is realizing what I’ve said for years-many food companies are basically con artists when it comes to reporting serving sizes accurately and in a way that truly represents the product. This article explains it: half a muffin is a serving size; six potato chips…really!? They count on consumers looking at the calories and not paying attention to the serving size, and unfortunately, in many cases that’s exactly what happens.

This is not to say that the consumer is without responsibility–we should be more educated and less willing to be duped. But less face it, if we were more disciplined, we wouldn’t be one of the most overweight nations in the world.

Regardless, accurate, realistic packaging should be mandatory! A whole muffin, an entire bottle of juice, a bowl of chips or ice-cream–THIS is a serving size and should be labeled as such, with the calories reflected right on the package. Perhaps when we see what we’re actually eating, not what we wish we were, or would like to pretend we are, we’d stop being one of the most overweight countries on the planet!

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Even teens who THINK they’re overweight are at risk for suicide!

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 19, 2009

A huge study,  published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finds that both BOYS and GIRLS who either are, or think they are overweight, are more likely to attempt suicide. This tells us two things:

1. We need to develop better social, school and peer supports for overweight kids and teens as well as those who have poor body images and don’t need to lose weight.

2. We need to become more effective at helping those kids who need to lose weight do so.

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Stay Healthy after losing your job

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 5, 2009

Losing your job might be the toughest experience you’ve ever had and you’re likely to want to climb into bed, eat junk food and watch TV! But, this won’t help you find another job. In fact, staying healthy will not only keep your body looking and feeling good–it will help you at interviews, by keeping your mind sharper too. Check out this article for some easy, inexpensive, practical tips to keep yourself from getting into a big slump!

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A recession maybe, but not when it comes to cheap sweets!

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 26, 2009

Since the crash of the market, there’s been an uptick in purchases of inexpensive candy and cheap chocolates! This great NY Times article, explains that even as we wallow in the demise of life as we knew it, we continue to soothe ourselves with instant gratification!

Despite the fact that we know eating too much junk food is not good for our health,  we still associate sweets with helping ourselves feel better and we’re suckers (no pun intended!) for the feeling that we had when we were innocent kids at the corner candy shop and all was right with the world.

So as we get fatter (again!) while we lose all our money, yet another corporate entity–the candy makers–are raking in the bucks. Let’s not let that happen!!! A little good-quality chocolate once in a while is great for stress reduction (it increases your feel-good neurotransmitters), but please don’t sacrifice your health for a quick sugar fix all the time!

Instead, when you’re feeling a little down, take a walk, talk to a friend, write in a journal, ask your kid to tell you some funny knock-knock jokes. All of these will lift your spirits just as well…maybe better…than candy, and without the negative side effects.

Also, when you’re stressed, don’t jump to other negative habits. Smoking, drinking, drugs–you know the drill. Over-eating is on that list too.

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eat meals with your kids

Posted by Dr. Susan on July 25, 2008

It’s not really new news, but still, yet another study underscores the importance of eating family meals. This one followed a group of Minnesota kids for five years and found that for girls (not boys, they’re not sure why) eating family meals seemed to innoculate them against cigarette smoking and alcohol and drug use–that is, by the time they were eighteen, the teens who had been eating family meals had a much lower incidence of substance abuse than those who hadn’t. I think that’s darn impressive! The study will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health

I am curious why the findings didn’t hold true for boys, though. My theory is that most boys (and many men) need to be reached with modalities other than talking–which is what family meals imply. For example, perhaps if parents spent equal amounts of time playing ball, or even video games, with their sons, it would innoculate them against substance abuse, the way family meals do for girls. If you have a son, try it and report back to me!

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feeding your kids sugar every morning?

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 23, 2008

This study demonstrates the absolute height of marketing irresponsiblity in which large companies selling food for children are allowed to engage in whatever kind of advertising they want to sell their product, regardless of how healthy it really is. This simple, yet brilliant research demonstrates that the cereals marketed to children are, across the board, less healthy (more sugar, more sodium etc) than the cereals we eat ourselves!! But parents are not free of responsibility. Oh no. It is our job as good parents to be educated consumers and think–yes really contemplate what we’re going to agree to put into the bodies of our children–especially first thing in the morning when the food they eat will feed their brains for the school day. Yet so many parents continue to buy cereal that’s practically candy and cookies–sometimes even shamelessly named for thes–while we’re munching away on low sugar, low salt, low fat healthier alternatives. Let’s chew on that for a while!

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