Monday, December 08, 2003

More bad news about TV

Ever wonder why kids hate eating fruits and vegetables? From observing my personal healthy food hater -- and from dim memories of hating healthy food in my own distant youth -- I'd guess the reasons might include something along the lines of ... they don't like the way the stuff tastes? But I'd be wrong, of course. The real reason children shun delicious fruits and vegetables is: They watch too much TV. Yes, indeed, TV is once again to blame for every bad habit of childhood.

According to a study appearing in this month's Pediatrics, kids who watch three hours of TV get a whopping .75 fewer servings of fruits and vegetables than is recommended by the FDA. Add another hour, and they're down a full two servings out of five. And why is that? The researchers suppose it's because you never see healthy food advertised on children's television. Or maybe because unhealthy food's easier to eat in front of the tube. But one way or another, watching TV affects our young ones' eating behavior, and not for the better.

The researchers are pretty clear on what should be done about it, and of course it all comes down to parents making hard choices. Among the appealing options suggested: "Parents might limit TV viewing, or ask their kids not to watch food commercials. Or, they could watch food commercials, with some parental input that the food advertised might not be the best snack choice." And you know, as much fun as it sounds to be stepping in front of the TV whenever potato chip commercials pop up, or preempting programming to explain why potato chips are ever so much less good for you than a plate of steamed broccoli, I'd personally much rather spend that time hiding in the kitchen, scarfing Pringles.

So here's my idea: Make those quiet produce manufacturers kick in for some lively, kid-friendly advertising. Talking cauliflower! Rapping apples! Cool celebs crunching carrots! If they can advertise Jello on PBS, why not kiwis? Start pushing those five-a-days with the proper zing, and we'll see if kids don't sit up and shout, "Peas, please!" And then they'll be lots more junk food left for me!

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