Thursday, May 23, 2013

Food Choices and Behavior Issues in Children

Hello Blogworld!

I have been quite busy with life as of late, and have not had much of a chance to sit down and formulate a decent blog post in a while. With being back at college for a career change, my priorities lately have simply been to keep up with the ever changing schedule. I finished second semester of college strong with another 4.0 GPA, all A's (Yes, I am a high achiever - though occasionally I do have to employ the use of spell check.) Summer semester started a few weeks ago and I am going through a writing course that is required for me to complete my major. I'm enjoying the class so far and we have had some very interesting discussions which incidentally has led to this blog post. The professor asked us to complete a writing prompt on a subject of our choice, to which I chose "Food Choices for Children and How It Affects Their Behavior."

Any nutritionist will tell you that good food choices are essential to maintaining a healthy body. Children need good nutrition. Often, the only balanced nutrition they receive is through the school lunch program. Nutritionists work directly with the schools in order to balance the menu so that the students are getting the optimal nutrients for their age group. Even the White House is getting involved when it comes to providing adequate nutrition education to children. Where this process breaks down is when the children are at home. Many low income families receive food stamps, welfare, or other types of government assistance in order to keep a roof over their heads. These programs provide just enough for families to squeak by, but their food choices are limited to what they can afford.

Coming on the summer season, a lot of schools will begin offering summer nutrition programs for children under 18 years of age. They can come to the school and eat breakfast and lunch for free, or the food is delivered to sites that are set up for distribution. For many parents, this program alleviates some of the stress that is placed on them to provide for their children while still allowing the children to receive the nutrition they need.

How do food choices become a behavior issue? Well many of the foods that have low nutritional value like cereals, pasta, cookies, chips, and canned goods are usually lower in price than healthier choices like meats, vegetables, and fruits. Due to the tighter budget from being on assistance, parents will often stock up on the more inexpensive items listed above rather than ones that can provide adequate nutrition. It doesn't help that a lot of the poor nutritional foods tend to market to children by way of cartoon characters, added sugar, and the promise of a toy "prize". A fair amount of children are on medication to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but no one stops to consider what these children are eating on a regular basis that may contribute to their hyperactivity. Sugar is not always bad, but should be consumed in moderation. When children consume too much of something, they will experience a rush, which can promote poor behavior choices.

Every day on the bus, I see children climb the steps with all sorts of junk in their hands such as sodas, candy, chips, sweetened snack cakes, or cinnamon buns. It's no wonder that later in the day or further on in the ride on the bus, these children become more active and can act out inappropriately. Sugar can have affect the body in many different ways. The behavior is also linked to certain food dyes which is found in many foods. Food will have hidden sources of sugar too, which again leads to behavior displays.

What can we do? Educate! Educate! Educate!

Offering free classes for parents on a budget will help these parents make better food choices when shopping, and hopefully in turn will help them teach their children positive nutrition. Medication can only go so far in helping children. Proper nutrition is key.

An Apple A Day,

The Bus Driver


Pissed Off said...

congrats on 4.0 and good luck on your new journey.

I have seen older students succeed when they would have failed if they started early. I know you will make it.

ChiTown Girl said...

Wow!! Congrats on such an impressive GPA!

I don't know why this is just showing up in my reader today. :(

I completely agree with everything you wrote. I am making a concerted effort to NOT climb up on my soapbox, and rant here. Let's just say - I agree with you!!

Sarah said...

I have children on my bus who take home weekend food bags. It's an option for any family that qualifies for free lunches based on income levels. I've looked into these bags on occasion and they are just filled with junk! I'm talking fruit roll-ups, gummy bears, super fatty box dinners and all kinds of other junk. They never give these kids anything fresh, it's all cheapo boxed and canned things, and from what I see, besides giving them a carton of milk, the breakfast and lunches served at school aren't much better.

The Bus Driver said...

@ sarah,
its sad when school districts don't seem to care what they feed their kids as long as the kids get fed.

BusMart Inc. said...

Isn't a PB&J just as cheap as a fruit roll up? I understand it takes about 5 seconds to make, and that's asking a lot, but what about banana's?? THEY ARE 50cents! And AMAZING for your diet. This is not hard to do. Get to the source of who's picking the food and get them FIRED.

Brad S said...

It drives me nuts when people talk about young kids "acting out" or being active and inappropriate in class. While I agree with you, kids should eat healthy foods, they are also supposed to act like KIDS!!! Everyone wants to find a way to male children docile in school, whether it be medication, or reducing sugar. Again I don't think kids should be loaded up on sugar, but it is completely normal for a child to be very energetic and "act out" in class. They are damn kids, they are supposed to be hyper! It is normal for an 8 year old to run circles around class and cause mischief. Its called being curious and active. Parents and teachers are just plain LAZY and they don't want to put in the work to look after kids. People now a days think a child should sit silently at their desk and not make o move, or else they have ADD! Are you kidding me? When I was in elementary school, it was like a nut house, and that's the way it should be! That is how children naturally act. The answer isn't medication or the food they eat, the answer is- Teachers, get off your fat lazy ass and do your job! Kids will be kids, if they are docile and quiet all the time, then I'd be alarmed and think something is wrong. When a kid acts out in class that does not mean he has ADD, it means he is a normal, hyper child, as children should be! ALso, what you said about schools giving unhealthy food. Yes I agree that healthy food is better, but you come off sounding very cold and pretentious when you said something along the lines of "its sad when school districts don't seem to care what they feed their kids as long as the kids get fed." Well honey, if the other option is starving, you're damn right its better they get the less healthy food. Putting a parent with low income into some class isn't going to make them magically have more money to buy healthier foods either. The problem is not the parents not being able to afford healthy foods, the problem is how jacked up the prices of said healthy foods are. Don't blame the parents for not being able to afford it, and don't blame kids for being kids. ADD is a sham and 99% of it does not exist. Parents and teachers are just afraid to not be lazy and actually pay attention and play with their kids. But it's much more convenient to just label it ADD or too much sugar consumption and find ways to make a child docile right? Bullshit! Kids will be kids, let them be!