Junk diets start at home

Is anyone surprised that a lot of children have junk diets at home?

A bit more fat and sugar and the extra kilojoules which go with them now and then isn’t a problem, it’s what you eat most of the time which makes a diet healthy or not.

You only have to look at what’s available on supermarket shelves to work out that a lot of people must be eating more of the food which ought to be reserved for occasional treats more often than they should.

 Food and drink that used to be reserved for celebrations like birthdays or Christmas – crisps, sweets, take aways, fizz – are almost staples for some families.

A generation or two ago homemade food was the norm. Some of us still cook from scratch, or nearly scratch,  when we know exactly what’s going into your meals most of the time but a lot of people don’t.

Poverty is one of the reasons for this. If you have little or nothing for  discretionary spending  price matters more than nutrition and a lot of the highly processed high energy foods are cheaper than healthier alternatives.

Ignorance is another – some people simply don’t know what a healthy diet is and how to cook it.

Even if you do know the sort of food you’re supposed to eat most of, most of the time, unless you study nutritional information on packaged food, which is almost always in tiny print which is difficult to read , it’s easy to be miss high levels of fat and sugar in what you might think is “healthy” food.

Then there’s time, or lack of it. When you’re busy it’s very tempting to resort to ready-to-eat meals which are usually more energy dense than to cook from scratch.

Any or all of these contribute to unhealthy eating and too much energy going in is compounded by too little energy going out.

Children have a lot more choices of indoor activities than they used to. Sections are smaller so it’s harder for kids to get incidental exercise playing at home and fears, often groundless, of dangers outside their properties make parents loathe to let their offspring go too far away.

All of these contribute to valid concerns about more people being overweight and under fit.

Solving that isn’t easy, but schools may take some comfort from the survey because it shows what happens between nine and three is a small part of  a much bigger problem.

26 Responses to Junk diets start at home

  1. Andrei says:

    God save us from the Kommissars who tell us they know what is good for us and our children.

    There is no such think as “junk food” but there sure as hell is such a thing as “junk science”.

    For example they witter on about the evils of giving children “chippies” note the kindergaten name.

    You know what a packet of “chippies” consists of?

    A small fraction of one potato cooked in sunflower oil and seasoned with a little salt and flavorings. Entirely harmless and supplying less energy than is required to maintain respiration for an hour. Phtttt

    People with resources feed their kids properly and don’t need to be told how to do it.

    People with less resources feed their kids what is possible within those constraints and most certianly would not listen to these nannies.

    What do these people want – a Nation of unhappy anorexics?

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  2. homepaddock says:

    Andrei, I was careful to use the term junk diet not junk food.

    I don’t want the food police telling us what – and how often – we should eat, But there’s a problem that a lot of people don’t know what constitutes a healthy diet any more, even if they could afford to buy the ingredients for it and knew how to cook them.

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  3. Sif says:

    You realise we live in a society where Coke is cheaper than milk?

    Lots of things are very wrong here

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  4. Sif says:

    I think the huge shift to rice products and soy based products and hollow calories is having and will have a devastating effect on human health in the medium to long term.

    Americans eat more rice and soy junk products than Asians eat rice and soy.

    Micheel Pollan writes very interestingly on the junkification of human nutrition. In Defence of Food

    Eat food. Not too much. Most of it plants.

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  5. scrubone says:

    I don’t think poverty (as in “lack of money) has as much to do with it myself.

    Yes, people in poverty tend to have poor eating habits, but this is usually due to ignorance, with lazyness playing a major role too.

    You can talk all you like about how some commercially processed food product is cheaper than produce, but the fact remains that most people in this country have space enough to grow their own for a fraction of the price. In fact, state houses were originally put on sections deliberately large enough to include a good veg garden – so I’m told.

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  6. Homepaddock – you say:
    “I don’t want the food police telling us what – and how often – we should eat, But there’s a problem that a lot of people don’t know what constitutes a healthy diet any more, even if they could afford to buy the ingredients for it and knew how to cook them.”

    Sounds as though you want genuine labling on products. Are you supporting the Greens on this?
    But surely you don’t want to oppose the rights of our free trade partners by forcing them to declare the contents of their products and thereby disadvantage their contribution to the market???
    You indicate too that you might want to ‘reeducate’ the public so that they can understand what healthy food is!
    Are you the food policewoman now???

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  7. Fredinthegrass says:

    Andrei, your definition of a ‘chippie’ IMHO, is too simplistic. No problem with the potato, although as a member of the nightshade family it will have a negative effect on some, albeit small; no problem with sunflower oil; neither with salt – would prefer to see it from rock salt or better still kelp.
    It is the flavourings I have a huge issue with. Subtle use of substances that encourage virtual cravings that ensure continuing use/profits – the latter made by large corporates who have no concern for our health.
    Can anyone honestly say they can take one chippie and then not desire another??

    I do agree with NO nannie state. I believe in continuing education, and not only in school!
    At home we have been altering our diet as we age, and with internet access to a vast range of information that is carefully filtered, I believe we are on track.
    My major concern is the power of advertising that is often inaccurate and unsubstantiated.
    The other day we came across information about a packaged food with a “healthy food” label that contains four known carcinogens.
    Until the medical profession can accept that ‘we are what we eat’ we will not make much progress.

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  8. Fredinthegrass – are you suggesting changes to the way food is advertised?
    You sound like a Greeny too!

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  9. homepaddock says:

    Scrubone – very good point.

    Sif – yes I know coke is cheap.

    Robert – I support voluntary labelling and don’t understand why supermarkets don’t have country of origin labelling for single ingredient foods. It would be a good marketing ploy. It is much more difficult for those with any more than one or two and I don’t think it needs to be mandatory.

    Fred – Anyone who labels products with claims to be healthy have to be able to substantiate them.

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  10. Andrei says:

    Yes, people in poverty tend to have poor eating habits, but this is usually due to ignorance, with lazyness playing a major role too.

    Patronizing pap from someone who has probably never gone to bed hungry.

    Poverty is a debilitating disease which crushes both spirit and motivation. And attitudes like that to the poor is what helps keep people who have fallen into poverty in it.

    And as for telling those who have little money for food they should be eating more fresh veggies is not only patronizing but cruel and ignorant as well – the poor eat food with the lowest cost for the highest returns in energy – and that is why, as is well, documented obesity is far more common amongst the poor. And its not from too much KFC – its from too much rice, noodles and bread.

    And their life expectancy is lower.

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  11. Sif says:

    Yes Andrei.

    Cheap food is unhealthy food in the main

    How much does your 5+ a day cost? For everyone in the family?

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  12. Andrei says:

    You know what is incredibly odd about these discussions is that in the developed world as the availability of the foods decried has increased so has the average life expectancy.

    Make of that what you will.

    Well no – let me help.

    Take milk for example, once upon a time a 100 years or so ago drinking milk carried the very real risk of contracting tuberculosis amongst other things. By processing milk that risk and some others can be entirely eliminated

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  13. “don’t understand why supermarkets don’t have country of origin labelling for single ingredient foods”

    Don’t you?

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  14. homepaddock says:

    No – I’ve seen it in lots of places overseas where it’s used in marketing – and often to charge a premium.

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  15. Fredinthegrass says:

    R G – it is more about honesty and fact, not hype and misinformation.
    And no, I’m not a greenie! I am learning to be a bit more proactive as to what I shove down my throat, and to question the integrity of the label.

    Hp – “A healthy snack” on a packet for some of the folk Andrei refers to is enough for them to think they are buying ‘healthy’.
    There is no requirement for them to be told about the potential carcinogens.
    This is because food that has been processed is no longer in its original form, and as far as I am aware there is no law saying the manufacturer has to state what the changes are.
    While the science is somewhat grey there is sufficient evidence to be skeptical about the motives of the said product maker.

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  16. “I am learning to be a bit more proactive as to what I shove down my throat, and to question the integrity of the label.”

    Greenie!

    (I know it hurts Fred, to be given that despicable title, but if you are going to talk like that… 🙂

    Like

  17. Andrei says:

    For goodness sake you “process” food when you cook it!

    People who market processed food process it for a reason – the most common being it keeps longer. The second most common and related to the first is so it is not going to give the consumer food poisoning or some other disease!

    Its no surprise to anyone who thinks rather than listening to the slogans of food kommisars or food activists that the last two major outbreaks of E-Coli in the United States came from Organic apple juice and Organic spinach. Both more expensive as well as less safe as it turns out than the “processed” alternatives.

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  18. homepaddock says:

    Fred I mean food which claims to be helathy even though it has lots of empty calories through unnecessary fat and sugar. Nothing wrong with either fat or sugar, but a lot of food have more than they need and more than is good for people if eaten more than occasionally.

    Andrei it’s not processing per se which is the problem, as you point out that can preserve and make food safer.

    The problem is excessive amounts of fat and sugar which are added in the processing eg more sugar in a breakfast cereal than a can of coke.

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  19. Sif says:

    Association is not causation Andrei. The fundamental change to huge volumes of refined rice products and soy in the human diet has only occurred over the last 15-20 years. In the states you can add to that high fructose corn syrup.

    The changes over the past century that increased life expectancy to the greatest recorded in the west preceded the changes in diet since 1984 that seem to be driving the ‘obesity epidemic’ and the diseases of affluence.

    These are huge experiments that seem to be producing deleterious effects at the moment. This generation of children is expected to be the first that is outlived by their parents, predominantly due to poor nutrition and the diseases caused by this particular form of nutrient malnutrition in the face of excess calorie dense foods.

    Eating energy dense nutrient poor foods is not really very good for humans, just look around you

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  20. Andrei says:

    more sugar breakfast cereal than a can of coke

    There is more sugar, a lot more sugar, in a glass of natural grape juice than in the equivalent glass of coke too

    While coke, natural apple juice have or freshly squeezed orange juice are about equivalent in that regard. The later two contain vitamin C though which coke doesn’t so are on balance the better choice.

    But to ignore the sugar in fresh fruit (blessed by the fanatics) while saying the sugar in cereal (anathematized by same fanatics) is very bad doesn’t make any sense at all to me.

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  21. homepaddock says:

    There’s nothing wrong with sugar per se – it’s excess amounts which cause problems.

    Most cerals have some sugar, well within recommended guidelines, some have far too much.

    Children who breakfast on high sugar cereals with little or no real food value are ingesting empty calories, will be hungry again well before play time, won’t be able to concentrate properly at school and in greater risk of tooth decay.

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  22. Rimu says:

    I think it’s mostly a lack of time for most people. Everyone’s too busy earning money to cook properly, or to learn how to.

    IMO cooking from scratch saves money as opposed to costing more (even with higher quality, more expensive ingredients). If you cook everything yourself then you have a stockpile of bulk food like rice, lentils, potatoes, pasta, preserves, etc all of which are way cheaper in bulk than buying small packets of them each week.

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  23. Andrei says:

    The sugar these neo puritans don’t like is called sucrose.

    Milk is about 8% sugar but nobody ever calls it a sugary drink because the sugar is Lactose not sucrose but there is only a small structural difference between the two in the real world of the chemistry lab.

    They are both carbohydrates and carbohydrates absolutely necessary for energy.

    This hyperbole “would you give your kid a can of coke for breakfast” is pure and simple propaganda. Coke is not particularly good for you but its not all bad. And it not the equivalent of giving kids coca pops for breakfast.

    Coco pops are absolutely disgusting btw. Kids like them until about the opening of the third box, after which they go back to weetbix or ours did anyway

    Celery is good for you but if you only ate celery you’ld starve to death because it provides less energy than is required to digest it.

    And people have more commonsense when it comes to eating than the ivory tower credits

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  24. Fredinthegrass says:

    Andrei – Sucrose is not the real problem. Fructose is the main danger with high consumption leading to an array of health ‘issues’.
    Raised LDL (bad cholesterol), upset tryglycerise levels, less sensitivity to insulin, increased visceral fat, and increased fat in the liver.
    Fructose is found in fruit and when eaten this way is not an issue.
    The fructose in the modern, and popular, so called energy drink industry, along with fructose corn syrup is the cause of major health problems.

    OK RG. I’m a ‘greenie’ in your mind.
    If that is what you call folk who make sensible food choices, so be it.
    I can tell you I have nearly rid myself of serious arthritis, increased my energy levels, and shared the ‘secret’ with quite a few who tell of similar results.
    I guess it is ‘each to his/her own’.

    Like

  25. Just teasin’ ya Fred. I admire and support your observations and conclusions.

    Like

  26. Fredinthegrass says:

    Thanks RG. I guess I am a little ‘sensitive’!!!!!
    It is just that having seen a huge improvement in my lifestyle without drugs, I want to share it with those caught up in the maelstrom of “big company” medicine.
    The pharmaceutical giants don’t want us to know there are other ways to good health.

    Like

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