I noticed a few stories here and there about kids and food as I perused various news outlets and thought some of them were definately worth bringing to the attention of the blogosphere.
The first one is rather interesting, at least to a former and soon to be again, breastfeeding mother, though technically, it is not from a news story, but from one of the Washington Post’s blogs:
US Government Says Breastfeeding is Best for Babies, but the TSA Isn’t On Board
From Leslie Morgan Steiner’s “On Balance” a work/life blog from the Washington Post, we hear how the TSA is making travel difficult for breastfeeding mothers who bring along breastpumps and breastmilk without a baby or toddler in sight.
Okay, obviously, no one at the TSA has read the US Government’s advice that breastfeeding is the best way to feed infants. And, obviously, no one has told them how breastfeeding works, nor why a woman would travel with a breastpump and no baby. And obviously, no one at the TSA is a breastfeeding mother or is or has been married to one. Because these folks are clueless, and they are making more obstacles for breastfeeding women who are travelling sans baby.
Why would a woman travelling without a child want to carry a breastpump and her saved breastmilk in little containers kept cold with blue ice (which is also now contraband, because it melts to a liquid/gel form)? Well, if one is travelling without the baby, the breastpump comes along because the breasts only make milk so long as there is demand, so pumping keeps up the supply. Breast pumps also keep working Moms who travel without their babies from developing painfully engorged breasts which can turn into cases of blocked milk ducts and mastisis, which are painful health conditions.
Besides, why would a breastfeeding woman -with- a baby carry expressed breast milk in a cooler, when she has the perfect container for breastmilk -on her person- in the form of breasts? It doesn’t go bad in the breast, it is never past the “use by” date, it doesn’t need to be warmed up so the kid’s tummy doesn’t get a shock from cold milk and it is sterile! What more can you ask for? If she gets engorged, there is the baby right there to help her out–no need for the breast pump!
And why would a woman want to keep the milk she pumps?
Because it is good for her baby. Duh. Because she can ship it to where her baby is to feed it while she is away. Because, for some women who have supply problems, it is not that easy to come by. Because it is just plain wasteful to dump it if you don’t have to!
TSA–ask not for whom the clue phone rings–it rings for thee. Please take your collective heads from your collective rears and pick up the reciever of the clue phone and take the call.
Because it really is silly for one branch of the government to tell women, “Breast is best!” while another branch of the government is saying, “You gotta pour that breastmilk out, it could be liquid explosives.”
Oh, and that breastpump is weird looking. It could be a bomb.
(It is comforting, however, to know that the TSA is not alone in their ignorance. For an eye-opening look at human ignorance about breastfeeding mechanics, check out the comments after the entry. Warning–there are LOTS of comments, and many of them are infuriating, on both sides of the issue–some breastfeeding advocates come across as snidely superior, while most of the detractors come across as ignorant twits. Not very many people show themselves in a good light in that discussion.)
Teens With a Drinking Problem: The Frappucino Generation
So from infants and their needs, colliding with the security ideals of the TSA, we go to teens and their eating, or rather, drinking habits. From Salon.com, a rather shrill and alarmist article about teens and Starbucks tells us that kids are flocking to Starbucks because it is a safe place to hang out without being shooed away by the staff, because it makes them feel grown up, and because they like sugar and fat laden coffee drinks.
I am tempted to say “Duh” again, however, I don’t want it to turn into a Greek chorus sort of refrain.
The main gist of the article is that Starbucks says they are not marketing towards teens, but the author says they are. The evidence given to back this up is slim–the author notes that the frappuccino and other sugary drinks appeal to teens. The problem with that theory is that they also appeal to a lot of adults, and in truth, I have seen more adults drinking them than kids.
How many adults eat Happy Meals as compared to kids? Eh? See what I mean?
The other objection to kids drinking Starbucks is that some teens apparently drink sugary, fatty coffee instead of eating breakfast or lunch.
Once again, can you hear the Greek chorus in your head?
Teens skip meals. They eat junk food. That is what they do.
Of course it is upsetting. Of course it isn’t good for them. Of course nutritionists (and parents) are going to squawk over it. But does that mean we need to get pissed at Starbucks over what teens do naturally?
But when you compare it to kids who eat tons of junk food and soda for every meal and are getting obese–yet another current media obsession, and with good reason, considering the health consequences of extreme obesity at a young age–coffee substituting for a meal or two doesn’t get my dander up that much. I don’t know why.
Making a case that Starbucks is bad for teens is just–well–not much of a case. As some commenters on Salon pointed out, teens are engaging in adult behavior by going to Starbucks where they can write poetry and people-watch, and hang out safely with friends (instead of driving around aimlessly, sneaking off to drink beer and have risky unprotected sex) , and they are being rewarded for this adult behavior. So what if they drink some coffee while they are at it? Don’t we want our teens to make adult, responsible decisions?
Or would we rather they cruise around in their cars drinking beer or something? I mean, really.
Video Games to Help Curb Childhood Obesity?
From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, we have a report of various ways educators are hoping to teach kids better eating and exercise habits. Some of these programs are funded by the federal grovernment as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program called The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
Baranowski led a research group that developed a multimedia nutrition game and tested how effective it was with fourth-grade students. After playing twice a week for five weeks, the youngsters increased their daily fruit, juice and vegetable intake by an average of one serving a day more than other students.
In Baranowski’s “Squire’s Quest!” game, aspiring knights earn dragon-scale points by vanquishing slimy snake and Mog mole invaders who try to destroy the kingdom’s fruits and vegetables. With the help of a wizard mentor and a castle robot named Mad Maxie, students take on adventures that allow them to gain skills and set goals related to consuming more fruit, 100 percent juice and vegetables.
Okay, so kids eat more veggies, fruit and juice after playing these games. That’s cool.
But, I have a novel idea to help fight childhood obesity that also involves play:
How about bringing back recess, compulsory physical fitness classes and get those kids off their duffs and onto the playground?
It isn’t just what they eat and how much of it they eat–it is the fact that many of them get no exercise. And uh, video games–for as much as kids love them–burn about -3 calories per hour of play. And too many kids play too many video games already.
Whereas a good game of tag, dodgeball or a long session of double dutch rope skipping burns hundreds of calories, and–get this–is -fun-.
When schools started cutting recess and phys ed in favor of academics, educators went the wrong way, and have actively contributed to the childhood obesity problem in our country.
So, hey, great–teach kids how to cook and what to eat with hands-on classes, get them playing nutrition-based video games–but also get their heinies in gear and get them moving!
That’s it for this week’s installment of food (and kids) in the news. Look for another Greek recipe tomorrow!
Photo credit: That, my friends, is a photograph of Morganna when she was about 18 months old, peering over the back of her carseat before we put it and her in the car. Wasn’t she a cutie?
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