Anti-obesity crusaders seem to have forgotten that children have taste buds, too. Mary Poppins, the original Super Nanny, would surely tell these food finger-waggers about the value of “a spoonful of sugar” in helping kids get the nutrition they need without all the fuss.
Public school officials in Fairfax County, VA recently realized they were neglecting students’ nutritional needs as a result of a knee-jerk decision to ban chocolate milk. Kids went cold turkey on moo-juice without the added sweetness that made it more pleasing to their picky palates. Now chocolate milk is back on cafeteria menus thanks to parental protest and the recognition that getting good nutrition into kids is an exercise in negotiation.
Jen Singer, a mother of two who edits a popular parenting blog, sounded off in The Wall Street Journal this week in support of parental pragmatism:
Let's face it: Chocolate milk is like broccoli hidden in mashed potatoes. It's the way parents sneak nutritional content into something palatable to kids who choose their breakfast cereal not by the quality of its content but by the cartoon characters on the box.
In fact, The Washington Post reports that removing flavored milk from schools reduces children's milk consumption by 37%. And for many kids, school is the only place they drink any milk all week long. Take it away, and they don't get those nutrients anywhere.
Self-appointed food cops do a lousy job impersonating parents, especially when they try to moralize to other people’s children. If adding a little sweetness introduces kids to new foods or makes nutritious choices more palatable, it’s certainly worth doing.