No-Brainers and No Duh!

by DavalosMcCormack on December 3, 2009

You have to love a news release with an opening line that says: “It seems like a no-brainer, and it is.” Now that’s honesty for you. It’s also very clever and good writing because it instantly gets your attention.

The no-brainer in question is a new study that says if you take the junk food out of school vending machines then kids will eat less junk food. Sounds like a study from the “No Duh!” school of science doesn’t it? But this study is actually a bit more clever and complex than it at first appears.

The study was done by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. So, you figure if they’re at Yale they have to be pretty smart.

When they began the experiment the researchers were a tad worried that taking the junk food out of school vending machines would lead to a so-called “forbidden fruit phenomenon” where kids make up for the lack of crap at school by eating a lot more junk at home. Happily that didn’t turn out to be the case.

The researchers found that overall junk food consumption went down, in effect students ate better at home but didn’t eat any worse at home.

That’s the good news. The better news of course would be if they also ate healthier food at home but that’s a whole other issue.

For now, I suppose, it is encouraging to see that schools can help kids lead healthier lifestyles with relatively small changes. And these were relatively small changes, because even though the researchers removed stuff like doughnuts and cookies and potato chips and sugar-laden sodas, they replaced them with fruit juice, baked chips and pretzels – still not exactly a health food diet but not as bad as before.

However, we need to do better. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not giving fruit juice to children – even if it is 100 percent juice – because of its high sugar content. At a time when more and more kids are overweight or even obese, every little bit we can do to help them eat and drink in a more healthy way is important.

So why not remove all the junk food and replace it with water and fruit? Because vending machines are a big source of income for many schools. Budget cuts are hitting many schools hard and so the money they make from selling junk is helping fill part of that gap. But it comes with a not-so-hidden cost, children’s health.

These are not trivial things. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this generation of children will be the first in a long time to live shorter lives than their parents. That’s because what these children eat today is laying the groundwork for a whole host of future health issues from diabetes to heart disease and cancer.

So, I’m thinking the real no-brainer here is why we don’t do more to help our children.

No Duh!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy January 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Hi and thank you for the article.

I am the founder and president of Inko’s White Tea, a six-year-old small but growing iced tea company. We are sold predominantly in the healthy food aisles of such supermarkets as Safeway and Whole Foods throughout the United States.

Recently, the New York City Department of Education implemented stringent health guidelines regarding vending products. For beverages they are: all natural, no preservatives, 25 calories per serving. Sadly, besides water, there are not many drinks that can meet those requirements.

I am proud to say that Inko’s can and has been approved for this semester.

We are:

25 calories per 8 oz (we are normally 28 calories in our 16-oz glass and REDUCED even more)
100% all natural
Recyclable Can

Here is the NYC DOE website link: http://www.opt-osfns.org/

Here is the link to the specific guidelines: http://www.opt-osfns.org/osfns/nutrition/NutritionalGuidelines.pdf

Our mission statement since inception is: Inko’s is dedicated to bringing the unique taste and healthy benefits of white tea to those who don’t want themselves and/or their children drinking sugar-laden beverages.

We’re trying. I have a six-year-old girl.

Best to you. Thanks for the blog!

Andy Schamisso

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Davalos/McCormack January 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hello Andy –
We checked you out and really like your website. Thank you for making vending machines safer, and thank NYC for implementing healthy ideas in the fast food industry!
Shirl & Kev

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