The eating habits of American children appear to be shifting. And for a change, the news is good.
Chicken nuggets, burgers, fries and colas remain popular with the under-13 set, of course. But new market research shows that consumption of these foods at restaurants is declining, while soup, yogurt, fruit, grilled chicken and chocolate milk are on the rise.
The findings, based on survey data by the Chicago market research firm NPD Group, follow a report last year that childhood obesity appears to have hit a plateau after rising for more than two decades. That finding, reported by The Journal of the American Medical Association, has been greeted with guarded optimism, and it remains unclear whether efforts to limit junk food and increase physical activity in schools have had a meaningful effect on the way children eat.
Well, not in our house, where it’s still a battle to get some fruit in the cereal, or to force consumption of any vegetable that isn’t deep-fried and served with their other favorite vegetable, ketchup. Our pediatrician just reminded us as well that kids should get from 16-24 ounces of milk each day. We weren’t really worrying about milk, since they eat a lot of cheese and often have cereal, but I think I was also laboring under the weight of my own delusions that kids still get milk in school like they used. Sure, they kept those little 4 oz cartons of milk on the radiator and they were often disgustingly lukewarm by the time we got to them, but at least we were being forced to drink milk two to three times a day. Now, our school has no beverages or hot lunch and asks us to send a reusable water bottle to school. I suppose there is some new device I could find that would keep milk cold until lunch time, but I haven’t found it yet.