Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Culture of Snacks - Part 2

In my previous post I discussed whether or not it was necessary to offer snacks to children in youth sports.  Assuming we all agree for the moment that there is no harm to offering our kids a snack at the end of play, then this begs the question of what kind of snacks should we offer?

One parent, who has a background in nutrition and athletic training, suggested avoiding sugary and processed foods in favor of healthy snacks.  This parent was particularly concerned about the link between processed foods and the rates of obesity, cancer, and other diseases.

I felt a bit remiss as a parent and a coach that I had never thought of this before.   It also made me wonder why the concept was not more prevalent in youth sports?   I was also surprised when the idea was met with disinterest and in one case out right resistance.

Obesity is a rising crisis in the country.  The USA now has one of the highest rates of obesity among all developed nations. Childhood obesity in particular is something we as parents and coaches should be concerned with.   Information of the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that:

"Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just one generation ago."

The CDC also makes the following suggestions for parents to help fight childhood obesity:
  • Provide more fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugar, and prepare healthier foods at family meals.
  • Serve water instead of sugar drinks.
  • Encourage physical activity every day.
    It therefore seems counterproductive to give our players unhealthy snacks at the end of an athletic event, considering we are actually trying to promote staying active to encourage our kids to stay fit and healthy.   Also if we are going to prepare healthier options for our family meals, why not at game time too?

    Choosing to offer healthy alternatives to processed foods gets kids into healthy habits at a young age.  In doing so we help curb bad habits now, and provide our children healthy nutritional habits that will stay with them as they develop into young adults.

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