Let’s take a look at children’s food options at school. Young children are often beholden to what they offer at the school but these snacks are typically very healthy. Choices become much more variable for older children when cafeteria lunches and vending machines have many choices.
Dentists and orthodontists are on the front lines when it comes to witnessing the effects of poor dietary choices in children. Amazingly, 83% of 152 schools surveyed in a study on quality of food choices in schools had food with minimal nutritional values, laden with sugar and other artificial flavorings.
The documentary, Fed Up, with Katie Couric was an eye-opener in how much soda alone the kids of the US drink at school. Obesity has reached national epidemic status, with 7 out of 10 children overweight. It may be that our dietary habits and choices in schools when children are more free to make their own decisions are part of this problem.
What can you do?
Parents and teachers can work together and campaign for better, more nutritious snack and lunch options at school.
Parents can help by packing balanced lunch with minimal sugar content. A good place to start is by simply limiting the packaged, processed snacks in your pantry. Planning a weekly lunch calendar with your child can make the preparation and packing of a lunch a family activity. A lot of “hacks” and DIYs can be found online for easy and healthy packed lunches.
Encourage your child to become a savvy decision-maker when it comes to his/her food choices. Repetition of healthy behaviors at home will reinforce similar decisions at school and hopefully offset some of the more questionable choices youngsters may make while with their friends.
“Young kids especially can be quickly magnetized by what they can get at school especially when it’s not something that is allowed or found at home. It’s a new thing. They often want to try it,” says Dr. Renee. “We actually recommend you let them try these questionable foods but on your terms, with your supervision. This provides parents with teaching opportunities to explain why you don’t have them at home or commonly offer them.”
“Remember not to forbid these snacks,” says Dr. Elizabeth. “Let them try some things that they want to try and take away the appeal of junk food. A taste wouldn’t harm them. Let it be part of their childhood experience and a teaching opportunity.”
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.