Friday, March 21, 2008

Too much choice?

Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Down in New Haven at Yale University they are actively studying the obesity problem.
Click the link above to be taken to a summary of their publications. It's the most recent one that caught my eye. Basically they conducted a scientific study to see if prompted, would kids be more likely to choose fruit or fruit juice. The results? With prompting most kids choose the fruit. That's good news. More fiber less added sugars.

But what surprised me is the choice involved. School food is honestly something I know little about these days. I'm getting the feeling that it has changed since I graduated from high school almost 15 years ago now. In elementary school we ate what was put on our trays, there was no choice involved except for red or blue milk. (whole vs low fat I can only assume.) Looking back on it now, that stuff probably wasn't the healthiest for me, but I didn't have a choice, I had to eat it. Packing our own lunch always involved more stress than it was worth I think for my poor Mom. Those days were subs and a bag of chips from the mini-mart before we went to school. No doubt far less good for me than what the school was serving.

My high school years were spent at a boarding school. Again, there was little choice about what you ate. Breakfast was either cereal or whatever was hot that am. Lunch and dinner had a salad bar that went with the entree choice (there was always a vegetarian option too) but other than that.... Not much choice. When I eat there now during alumni events I marvel at the choice these kids get. Now they have cereal all day, a sandwich bar, a fro yo machine, several different entree choices and always a make your own waffle machine!!! Granted-- it's lot easier to offer more choice now that they have consolidated into one main dinning facility, but still. It's open all day and the kids are welcome to graze. That would have been death for me back then. To much choice and without any education no doubt I would have have made the wrong ones.

So back to the study. Why give kids the choice? Just give them the healthier foods and they will eat it. Kids in grade school can't be expected to make their own healthy choices.

PS. In case you are curious here is a link to what the Rudd Center is all about at Yale University.

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