Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

7.3.05

Academics have all the answers as usual.

There was a double page spread in the Herald Sun (not online) about the growing incidence of child obesity.

75% of the article stated the obvious: children are eating more junk and exercising less. The rest drew the wrong conclusions.

One 'expert' offered strategies including keeping raw vegetable sticks in the fridge for afternoon snacks.

You gotta be kidding. Like I came home from school and ate celery sticks to stave off my adolescent hunger.

The academics, bureaucrats and food-nazis are in denial. Reducing childhood obesity goes way beyond middle-class adult obsessions with low-fat foods. The 'expert' went on to suggest parents 'talk' to their children about healthy food choices. What, have a discussion with your kids - while you're driving somewhere in the car, or maybe sitting around in the loungeroom - about kilojoule content and how chips are laden with fat? No, that just plays further into the food obsession culture and teaches children to regard food as some kind of minefield. I ask you to believe that a break-out panel accompanying the story actually lists the kilojoule content of a stick of celery.

Academics regularly suggest junk food ads are to blame. Clever academics - that theory blends two of their pet obsessions: the evil of capitalism and their prescription for ever-growing nanny state regulation of individuals, who are incapable - in their view - of responsibility for their own actions. What garbage. Turn off the television. Or just say no.

Blame goes everywhere except where it should - right to the feet of the parents. Why are children watching TV for hours on end anyway? Why are they sent to school too early in the morning to have breakfast, making them hyper-hungry later in the day and prone to eating only what is around instead of nourishing home-cooked food? Why are they in after-school care instead of going home to a robust afternoon snack, maybe a thick slice or two of buttered bread and some cheese, maybe a slice of pie - certainly not raw vegetables?

I haven't heard academics suggest the obvious - that maybe a parent in the house: cooking their children's breakfast in the morning, making their lunch to take to school and being there to create a haven to which children will enjoy returning; anticipating, every day, the aromas of robust, traditional home-cooking - not always 'low-fat' but always brimming with nourishment and comfort - may go just a small part of the way to solving the problem.

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