The Super-Sizing of Our Children

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Our children are being super-sized. After all, you are what you eat, right? Childhood obesity is a major problem in this country. One reason for this, researchers say, is increased food portions. In a recent study, data from four surveys ranging from 1977 to 2006 was analyzed for portion size of the following foods: sugar-sweetened beverages, salty snacks, French fries, burgers, desserts, pizzas, and Mexican fast food. Total calories consumed of these foods were also analyzed.

In 2003 to 2006, the foods listed above accounted for 38 percent of calorie intake in 13–18-year-olds, 35 percent in 7–12-year-olds, and 28 percent in 2–6-year-olds. The researchers stated that over time, “larger portion sizes of selected energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods have increased in parallel with energy intakes at meals, especially in adolescents and middle-aged children.”

Their study found that the availability of larger portion sizes played a role in higher intake of empty calories in older children and teens, suggesting teens are more susceptible to larger portions, and less able to self-regulate their eating habits compared to younger children.

Bad food is easy to come across. It’s available everywhere, it’s cheap, and it’s usually found in the form of refined carbohydrates and sugars, making it also somewhat addictive. These are the foods our children are growing up with. This week, super-size the vegetables instead. Super-size some healthy, whole foods that your children like. Super-size some blueberries! Super-size broccoli! Do what you can to plant the seeds of good nutrition in this young generation, so that those seeds may grow a healthy human.

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