Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Marketing Sugar to Kids

Image result for cereal brands

"Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."  
                                                                               --Michael Pollan

Want to read a good book that will forever change the foods you buy for your kids?  Then run to your local library and read Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle,  Ph.D., M.P.H..  Nestle, a professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Health at New York University, teaches about what goes on behind those pretty boxes in the middle of grocery stores.  

Take a walk down the cereal aisle at any grocery store.  Look at the names of cereals that are at eye level to kids' and you will get your fill of "sugar", "frosted", and "crunchy".  These yummy sounding words are a clue to savvy parents that these products are loaded with sugars and should be avoided.  Look at foods with labels proclaiming “sugar-free” for an example of the classic “bait and switch” intentionally designed to trick us into thinking we are buying healthy choices. 

Most cereals are marketed to kids because they contain highly processed sugars which are cheap to produce but contain no nutritional value.  Most foods marketed as “sugar-free” are targeting people with diabetes, however, "sugar-free" does not mean carbohydrate-free. 

Companies spend more than $17 Billion marketing products to children.  As we all know, marketing directly to children is a factor in the childhood obesity puzzle.  Product placement is critical to sell sugar-loaded foods to young children, who are extremely vulnerable and cannot discern when they are being influenced to buy unhealthy products.   According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, children ages 2-11 see more than 25,000 advertisements a year on TV alone.   

The price of marketing sugar to kids is their present and future health.  Teachers can’t teach kids who are fidgeting in their seats all day and spaced out from the sugar roller coasters of high carbohydrate breakfasts with no protein or fat, followed by a steady stream of sugar all day in the form of highly processed snack foods like HoneyBuns, fruit drinks, and sugar-flavored milk. 

Childhood is a precious time for our kids.   As parents, it is our responsibility to protect them from being taken advantage of by for-profit companies that place corporate profits over individual health.  

To learn more about how large companies deliberately market products to children and action steps you can take to protect your children's health, go to

Image result for granola parfait

Please pass the healthy granola.  Make this recipe with your kids.  Use it for breakfast and also for after school parfaits with equal layers of granola, vanilla yogurt, and fresh blueberries.  

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cup raw nuts and/or seeds (my favorite combo: 1 cup pecans or sliced almonds and ½ cup pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or local honey)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup dried Montmorency tart cherries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts and/or seeds, salt and cinnamon. Stir to blend.
  2. Pour in the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
  3. Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, before breaking it into pieces and stirring in dried cherries. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 Source:  This recipe was adapted from granola recipe by Cookie and Kate.  

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.