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Junk Food Continues To Plague America’s Diets

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jfcHere’s a two-part quiz for you:

What’s the most popular snack food in the United States?

What’s the number-one drink of choice among teens?

The answers probably won’t surprise you. “Potato chips and soda,” says Ann Svendsen, Director of Nutrition Services at Duval County Public Schools. “And it’s not diet soda they’re drinking; they choose regular soda – with caffeine and sugar. In fact, a lot of our young people have potato chips and soda for breakfast,” she added.

Many teens think if they eat less food, they won’t gain weight, says Svendsen. “They look at the single can of soda and the small bag of chips and say, ‘But I’m not eating very much!’ They don’t realize that the foods they are eating are loaded with fat and sugar and contain very little nutrition value.”

Convenience Costs

Where do most school kids buy their snack foods? At vending machines located on school property. Why can’t they simply change the kinds of snacks offered in these vending machines? “If we change all the snacks in the vending machines to healthier items,” said Svendsen, “the kids just go off school grounds to buy them at the neighborhood convenience store. Same with school lunches. If we only offer healthy foods, they go to a nearby fast food restaurant and get their burgers and fries. There has to be a middle ground. By adding items such as lean deli sandwiches, low-fat frozen yogurt, and low-fat chocolate milk to the menu, we’re giving them healthier choices that still appeal to them.”

Svendsen, along with the school nurses and teachers, tries to spread the word about good nutrition to the 255 schools in the Houston school district. “These kids are smart,” she explained. “They watch their grandparents die of heart attacks. Many of them are worried about what’s going to happen to them. When you take the time to explain the facts about good nutrition – that they should watch their fat intake and increase their intake of fruits and vegetables – many of them are willing to listen.”

Snack Attack Defense

What’s the best line of defense against a junk food snack attack at home? “Have a wide variety of foods that are accessible, easy to prepare, and that taste good,” says Mimi Kerr, cooking instructor and co-author of Young Chef’s Nutrition Guide and Cookbook. “It’s so easy to prepare fresh foods, fast – for instance, a warmed tortilla with cheese, lean cold cuts rolled and secured with a toothpick, and cut up fresh fruit that can be threaded onto skewers – these foods can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack.

“Because more moms are working outside the home now, kids are taking more responsibility for what they eat. And when it comes to preparing meals and snacks, they’re more interested in the decision-making process,” Kerr adds. “Kids these days are sharp. Once they are given a responsibility, along with some education and guidance, they become smart consumers.”

Written by TheEditor

November 12th, 2014 at 9:23 am

Posted in Issues,Your Health

3 Responses to 'Junk Food Continues To Plague America’s Diets'

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  1. Junk food contains too much fat and oil. These unhealthy substances, when consumed frequently, can lewd to heart diseases and liver failure. Enough reasons for me to refrain from eating it.

    Carmen Rosoff

    11 Dec 14 at 6:37 pm

  2. I was told that there have been studies that prove kids who consumed lower amount of junk foods perform better in school. For this reason, I never allowed my kids to indulge on junk foods.

    Becki Wolters

    24 Dec 14 at 2:17 am

  3. A few years ago, I was addicted to junk food. I was still a student then. I did not bring packed lunch in school. Instead, I would fill my bag with junk foods and that’s what I would eat all day. I noticed that I was not strong enough then to attend to my daily activities. I guess, it’s because the food I eat lacks in nutrients.

    Jacalyn Bracker

    24 Dec 14 at 8:35 am

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