Read critically

I'm a little late on this, but I recently stumbled upon the March 2012 edition of TIME FOR KIDS.  Intrigued by the cover story ("Sugar Overload!"), I took a look inside.

Source: Time for Kids

I was pleased to see health issues taking center stage in an educational children's publication.  The article starts off like this, explaining how sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we might not expect (like sauces and crackers), in addition to those we already know (like candy and soda).  TIME encourages kids to search labels for the many aliases of sugar, consider the amount of sugar in various food products, and maybe think about cutting back.

All good, right?

While I do applaud TIME's effort at helping young people identify added sugar and think about its unhealthy effects in their body, I was sorely disappointed with the article's lack of attention to what IS healthy.  The well-intentioned writer warns students all about the unwanted "Sugar Overload" and displays the shocking amounts of sugar in some of their favorite packaged foods, but...

  Not once does the word "vegetable" 
appear in the article.  

All it would have taken was a simple line at the end, saying "To be sure you're not getting dangerous amounts of added sugar, choose real foods over packaged meals and snacks."  That's it!  Give them something to replace the sugary snacks with.  TIME FOR KIDS completely dropped the ball, in my opinion.  This would have been the perfect chance!  They instill a fear in readers, ("Ahh! Added sugars are in everything!"), but fail to help children learn that whole foods may be the better choice overall. After all, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, etc. that come as they are in nature would make safe choices, if added sugar is the fear.  Instead, the article focused on packaged foods, processed consumables that, more likely than not, do have some kind of added sugar.

I hope that TIME FOR KIDS and other children's publications continue the recent trend in educating adults and children alike about health issues, food choices, and physical activity, but I also hope they focus on what young people can do to become healthy young adults, rather than instill fear without offering proper solutions. 

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