How America's Kids Packed on the Pounds (and what you can do about it)

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The cover of Time Magazine caught my eye yesterday: on it was a clearly overweight boy with a double scoop ice cream cone, standing on a stressed out skateboard sagging under his weight. The magazine dedicated almost 40 pages to “our super-sized kids,” addressing “the most important public health problem facing the country today.”
 
The article, written in Time Magazine on June 12, is called, How America's Children Packed On the Pounds by Jeffrey Kluger. It provides an excellent history on how America’s kids have arrived at the state they’re currently in.
 
I picked up the issue and devoured it in one sitting. Overall, Time’s coverage gets high marks. But there were some blind spots:  “If you can’t be bothered to hunt up some veggies (…) now and then, your weight problems are you own,” stated one journalist. While I agree that eating veggies instead of processed foods is one of the most important ways to help kids lose weight, our kids don’t always agree with this ideal–I don’t know when the last time was that I last saw my daughters or their friends on a veggie safari, stalking celery in the fridge. Realistically, I think we’d better find new and exciting ways to get the veggies from the fridge into our children’s tummies, and in my unbiased (ahem…) opinion, the Sneaky Chef way is probably the easiest and most effective.
 
In fact, a recent study at Penn State University showed that calories and fat can be significantly reduced by simply substituting some veggies into meals that kids already like to eat.
 
In the Time article, there are three two page, full color, double spread images–real eye candy. The first features a typical cafeteria meal from the 1950’s. The second is a photo of a typical cafeteria meal today, and the third is an idealistic cafeteria tray of the future. We need figure out how to get to that ideal from where we are.
 
The first tray has pot roast with gravy flanked by mashed potatoes with butter, peas and corn, and a slice of buttered bread; a cup of whole milk; an apple; and for dessert, ice cream.
 
On the next photo spread is typical, modern day fare: nachos with cheese and salsa, refried beans, Mexican rice, a couple of chocolate chip cookies, and canned peaches for dessert. Hmmm, definitely appealing, but with alarming amounts of fat, sodium and calories that are far from healthy–unless, that is, we do a Sneaky Chef makeover. For example, I’ve got special recipes for nachos, chocolate chip cookies and salsa that will cut the unhealthy elements of those dishes in half, while adding beans, fruits and vegetables that will be eaten with a smile! Pardon me for tooting my own horn here, but this just seems so obvious. Is there any reason not to make these dishes the healthy way?
 
Flip to the next page, and we’re into the idyllic imaginary future, which represents the perfect meal for our ideally healthy children: a turkey wrap with whole wheat tortilla, vegetable soup swimming with whole vegetables, raw carrot sticks with dip, a bunch of grapes and a handful of strawberries. Things I personally love to eat, but kids’ palates today have been trained to prefer higher fat, more processed “fun” foods rather than these wholesome foods in their natural states. As beautiful as the spread looks, I can’t think of many children who will find it palatable (unless they augment the meal at a few vending machines).
 
Turning back one page to the previous photo spread of today’s classic meal, we find ourselves where our kids really are today in terms of what they’ll actually eat. What’s needed are transitional recipes that will take them from where they are to where they need to be. We have a tool to change our present day predicaments into opportunities to feed our kids wholesome foods that they’ll actually eat with Sneaky Chef makeovers.

Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition at New York University is quoted in the article as saying, “I would look for little ways to introduce more fruits, whole grains and veggies into these diets.” I wholeheartedly agree, and I think I know a way…
 
As a sneaky chef you are addressing this problem head on in a way that ensures success.
 

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