Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail is running a week-long series on the obesity problem in this country. According to Stats Can, when the agency went out and weighed people instead of asking them about their weight (apparently we lie…), it found 61% of Canadians are overweight.
What I found interesting about the lead-off article in the weekend paper—about how governments can affect change in people’s diet— was how little it emphasized children and food education. There was lots of talk about money incentives, taxes on sugary sodas, the ineffectiveness of “shock-value billboards” and (duh) shaming people into losing weight. But here’s all they said about kids and “fooderacy”:
“School-based interventions were harder to cost out, since the benefits are long-term. But the report’s authors did find it made sense to educate a captive audience, young enough to still be setting lifestyle patterns.”
Sounds pretty promising to me—so why not focus on said captive audience? What about a serious government commitment to teaching kids about food in school? Supporting school gardens? Real food education?
While I think taxing soda (and other junk food) and finding ways to change the agricultural subsidy of cheap food is part of the solution, talking to kids and changing food attitudes among children is so obviously key to long-term change. (And if governments aren’t thinking long-term, who will?)
Luckily, there are lots of smart people/parents thinking about how to get kids eating healthily and getting their hands dirty in the kitchen. Take Dinner: A Love Story in NYC or Toronto’s own Sweet Potato Chronicles, the brainchild of former fashion editors Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh. A blog/website about family food, it’s got recipes (that both kids and adults can make), profiles, info about food (say, the low-down on avocados), plus videos like “How to make a kale quiche your kids will like.” I especially like this week’s theme: Quickie Dinners. Brilliant. Now if we can just get our government to be so quick and forward-thinking…