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From the September/October 2011 issue, From the Editor
By Cain Credicott

Fall. This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year. After a hot summer, the air is cool and crisp. The green landscape changes to a bright and vibrant explosion of color. We shift from the light, brightly colored salmon, berries, and greens of summer to heartier comfort fare with roasts, winter squashes and fall apples. The intoxicating smell of freshly cut grass is replaced by the comforting aroma of cinnamon, oranges and cloves. I don’t know what could make it any better. Oh yeah, the kids are back in school.

Any parent reading this will know that I’m kidding about the kids (mostly) and that it’s a bitter sweet time when school starts back up. During the summer we typically join the kids in disconnecting from anything resembling a “normal” schedule, filling our days with as much playing as we possibly can. However, like they do, after a few months, we’re oddly ready for the routine that the school season inevitably brings. For the last couple months we’ve also had virtually unwavering oversight on what our kids have been eating, taking the opportunity to talk with them about different foods and how they can affect their bodies and minds. Now, with school just around the corner, I start to feel a sense of dread. Because I know that my wife and I will be engaging in what seems like a non-stop battle with candy, sugar and gluten filled cupcakes, chips, pretzels and other junk food. We’ll hear that it’s not so bad, they only get it infrequently and it’s just reality. The worst part is that the battle won’t be with my own kids, it will be with the school, teachers and other parents.

Between “special events” at school, birthday celebrations, food used as an incentive and Halloween, kids today are exposed to an enormous amount of junk food on any given school day. This fact is usually driven home each fall when, after spending a summer without these foods, we suddenly hear and see them almost constantly. What amazes me is that year after year, things seem to be getting worse, not better.

According to the CDC, almost 20% of kids age 6 to 11 and 18% of those 12 to 19 are considered obese. In a population based sample of 5 to 17 year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (1). In the 2006 School Health Policies and Programs Study, only 18% of high school students could purchase fruits or vegetables, yet 77% could purchase soda or fruit drinks (2). The SHPPS study also found that 11.7% of elementary schools, 19% of middle schools and 23.5% of high schools offered brand-name fast foods from companies like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell or Subway (3). Like I said, worse, not better.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining. Each year, more and more parents are getting involved and making their voices heard. I know that it can seem overwhelming and feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, especially during those weeks where there seems to be a birthday party every single day. This issue, we’ve worked hard to give you some tools to help make it through this school year unscathed. Our Paleo RD gives you tips to prepare your kids for the temptations they’re sure to face at school as well as strategies to curb any “food rebellion”. We take a look at how a day of Paleo foods stacks up against the current USDA recommendations and we’ve got suggestions to make all the candy at Halloween a lot less scary. Together we will get through this bitter sweet time of year.

References
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Obesity. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/index.htm
2 United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). The Obesity Epidemic and United States Students [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from
http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/yrbs/pdf/us_obesity_combo.pdf
3 Kann, L, Brener ND, Wechsler, H. (2007). Overview and summary: School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006. Journal of School Health,
77(8), 385-397.