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Chinese Medicine in the News
All Sugared Up and Set to be Tested
News and Observer authored by Donna Bauman (5/5/2010)
The e-mail arrived at 8:20 p.m. I left the computer and hoped that perhaps no one would volunteer to bring in the “kiddie cocaine” and that maybe this sugar freight train could still be stopped. But by 9:11 p.m we had the Smarties and the pretzel twists “sent by my iPhone.” Twizzlers and Tootsie Roll pops followed at 10:52 and 11:01 p.m. respectively. Cars would be heading out to SuperTarget, treats would be packed in plastic bags. What kind of “positive energy” was this supposed to bring, and what does any of this have to do with the End of Grade tests?
I asked the teacher if we could find something else to offer my son. I also mentioned that I didn’t think food should be a reward. She replied it wasn’t a reward, but part of a rhebus.
“A what?” I questioned back. The candy would be used as part of a puzzle, the educational term being rhebus, she replied, and only one piece of candy could be eaten in school.
Rhebus or not, regardless of where it was eaten, this candy would be consumed by kids, and somehow that still sounds like a reward to me. But I didn’t want to cause any more trouble than I already had (I haven’t figured out a way to discuss these sorts of things without feeling like Hester Prynne wearing the scarlet letter - in my case “S” for Snicker Snatcher), so I agreed to send in baseball cards instead of sweets.
This issue isn’t about any particular teacher or classroom or school. My son’s teacher happens to be a terrific teacher. Some version of this story plays itself out in American classrooms every day. Perhaps the only thing that was unusual is that I got an e-mail alert before it happened.
When I asked the principal why we allow candy in our schools, she conceded my point but said it was being done in moderation. And that’s where the sugar devil is, in the details.
Exactly what amount of sugar is moderation? According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for children, there are only 100-300 daily discretionary calories. This includes “luxury” foods like candy. But it also includes the sugar hidden in our regular foods. By the time kids have finished their sugar-filled yogurt or cereal for breakfast and downed their flavored milks, they are already nearing their “discretionary” limit for the day and it’s not even lunch.
Even the healthiest of our kids are taking sugar hits of proportions unheard of for the thousands of years of civilization on planet Earth save the last 50 years. If we as mothers don’t draw a line in the sand and scream “Enough” with the same primordial force that we used to bring our children into this world, we may not have them around that long. Shockingly, there are now children with diabetes, heart disease and morbid obesity. While it is easier to send in the Twizzlers and forget it, my conscience wouldn’t allow me to be silent.
I find myself out $20 in baseball cards, wearing a big scarlet letter “S” all in the name of EOG testing and thinking up a new rhebus of my own - “How can we teach our children to eat the right things when at every corner and even at school we are bombarded with opportunities to fall even further down the slippery sugar slope than we already are?”
Used with permission.