NYT: “Mexico Puts Its Children On A Diet”

The New York TImes published an interesting article on 3/14/11 about the battle being waged in Mexico to improve the quality of food that kids eat at school.  “One in three children is overweight or obese, according to the government,” and it seems that advocates are fighting hard to keep snack food companies and other junk food vendors from the school yard in order to prevent them from pushing their high-cal, high-fat, high-sugar and nutritionally-sparse fare on a captive audience of fledgling consumers.  Kids do not have the innate ability to always know what’s good for them, especially when it comes to making food choices.  But if children are given the opportunity to appreciate wholesome food without having the temptation of unhealthy snacks at their fingertips to corrupt them, they can begin to learn better habits to make a pattern of healthy decisions that may last them a lifetime.

As in the U.S., regulators, parents, and schools in Mexico need to take responsibility for protecting the children from the effects of unhealthy eating.  But the battle isn’t just against the producers of unhealthy snacks, but against the general mindset of society as well.  There are many people, young and old, who don’t know the importance of a healthy diet and the dangers that lurk in fried, fatty, sugary foods.  Mexican cuisine, to me, is very tasty, and it is steeped in custom and culture.  And much of the traditional fare that I have had the opportunity to try while spending time in rural Mexico is made from delicious fresh and local produce, such as mangoes and cactus leaves.  However, many people are still unaware of the lethal effects of frying foods in artery-clogging hydrogenated cooking oils, and this method is used heavily.  Therefore, the responsibility to push society in the direction of a healthier way of eating,  at home and in schools, lies with all of us.  Education and awareness are the keys.  In the U.S., as well as in Mexico, we need to keep conversation going about the importance of having access to fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks, such as soda, chips and candy.

Please take the time to read the full article, “Mexico Puts Its Children On A Diet”, and let us know what you think about the quality of food being provided to children in the schools where you live.

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