I just returned from a family vacation to Florida that included my two nephews, ages 7 and 5. There are no kids on the planet more likely to get type 2 diabetes than these two; both of their parents have it and all of their grandparents do (or did) as well. I’m just hoping they can hold the disease at bay until they are well into adulthood.
We ate at several restaurants during our vacation. What struck me was the carbohydrate-loaded nature of the kids’ menus. It didn’t seem to matter whether we were at a fast food joint or a really nice restaurant, the boys didn’t have many healthy dining choices. On our last night in Orlando, we ate a a very nice place that specialized in seafood and steaks. My nephews’ dinner choices were:
- Mac & cheese plus french fries
- Chicken nuggets plus french fries
- Fried fish plus french fries
- Grilled cheese plus french fries
- Fried shrimp plus french fries
The younger nephew was happy with mac & cheese. The older one has a more sophisticated palate. Give him spiced, steamed shrimp with cocktail sauce or ahi tuna with sesame soy dipping sauce and wasabi mashed potatoes or a chicken and black bean wrap and he’s happy. However, he doesn’t eat that much and his parents, understandably, don’t want to shell out the money required to purchase an adult entree.
Current childhood obesity trends say almost one-third of American kids born in the year 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. There are many efforts underway to lobby Congress to improve the quality of food in schools. Jamie Oliver and Chef Ann Cooper are leading the way. Let’s lobby restaurant owners to improve the quality of food served to kids in their establishments as well. Would it really be that difficult to offer kids apple slices or carrot sticks instead of french fries? Grilled chicken or fish instead of fried? Kids will eat healthy food if it tastes good.