I was at my son’s primary school sports day a couple of weeks ago when I heard a teacher calling out, “I can’t believe you’ve brought a bottle of soft drink along to an athletics carnival!”
I looked. There was a kid, who looked to be about nine or so, gulping fizzy drink from a bottle. He just grinned at the teacher.
A lot of people get upset about the idea of teachers snack shaming kids. “It’s up to the parents what their kids eat,” they say. “Let the parents decide. It’s none of the teacher’s business. There might be reasons why parents feed their kids what they do.”
Well, could someone who sends their kid along to primary school with a bottle of soft drink please justify it to me? I mean, seriously. Tell me why you think it’s okay.
A quarter of kids in Australia are overweight or obese. Our society agonises over why. Junk food ads on TV. Misleading labelling on food. Overprotective parents driving their kids to school. What the mother ate before conception and during pregnancy.
Well, here’s another reason: Parents are putting crap in their kids’ lunchboxes.
It’s not just soft drinks. My son comes home and tells me that other kids get a packet of chips in their lunchboxes every day. He wants to know if he can have a packet of chips every day too.
Well, no. He can’t.
I understand it can be hard to get kids to eat healthy food. I understand it can be confusing to know what's healthy. Fruit-flavoured drinks, snack bars, sugary cereals. There are things that are promoted as good for kids that actually aren't the best options. But surely everyone knows that soft drinks and chips shouldn't be part of a kid's daily lunch. Don't they?
When you send a kid along to school with soft drinks and chips, you're giving them the message that these foods are part of a normal, healthy diet. You're setting up eating habits for a lifetime.