The Snackification of America

Soccer parents are sometimes dads, but usually moms. And actually, “soccer mom” is a generic term that applies to baseball, gymnastics, dance, track, or whatever team activity that mom’s child happens to be involved in. The supportive parent provides transportation and hearty cheers, and signs up for the refreshment rota.

Therein lies the first dilemma. Even parents who do not believe that kids need numerous feedings throughout the day are forced to be part of the problem. An outsider might think the answer is simple  just bring water. But no, says Eileen O’Connor in describing the fate of the week’s designated snack mom. “You’re only as good as your snacks.”

Apparently, certain communities would regard water as a grave insult, a sign not of advanced consciousness, but of cheapness. Parents who tried to get away with it would be looked at sideways, and their children would bear the brunt of teasing. Kids want stuff like name-brand cookies and soda, so on top of the bad health message, it can be quite an investment. O’Connor warns of another danger:

You better know every kid on that team and their medical history… You’ll end up buying ten different snacks to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs. Allergies. Gluten. Red dye number 40.

Diana Cuy Castellanos, a registered dietitian and assistant professor at the University of Dayton, observes that while our society may talk the talk about preventing child obesity, we seldom walk the walk. She cautions the reader that for purposes of her article, she defines healthful food as “anything that has little to no added sugar or fat, and limited to no processing.”

It is important to talk with other grownups and gather endorsements for the simplicity principle. While some parents insist that kids will not accept simple fruit and vegetable munchies, Castellanos believes that with patience and persistence, healthful snacks could become the norm.

She urges the team coach to assume responsibility for creating a snack policy, thereby removing the onus from parents. There is a list, and the snack parent of the week chooses something from the list and brings it.

As for parents, if the healthful snack revolution has not yet hit their locality, she urges them to be pioneers and boldly make some cookies with whole wheat flour, minimal sweetening, and alternative fat sources. Or make trail mix. Bring whole bananas or apples, or carrot sticks with cheese or peanut butter. Or cups of low-fat yogurt and fresh blueberries. For liquid refreshment, supply 100 percent fruit juice, or (gasp!) water.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “No One Wants to Be Snack Mom — No One,” HuffingtonPost,com, 10/26/15
Source: “Can we please make after-game snacks healthy?,”, 05/04/15
Photo credit: Maria Eklind on Visualhunt/CC BY-SA

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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