Kids snacked in the 50's, today they graze

In the NY Times is an article about our current culture of kids and snacking. Here's an excerpt:

Apparently, we have collectively decided as a culture that it is impossible for children to take part in any activity without simultaneously shoving something into their pie holes.

“Children used to come home, change into play clothes and go outside and play with other children,” said Joanne Ikeda, a nutritionist emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. 

“There were not snack machines, and the gas stations only sold gas. Now there are just so many more opportunities to snack and so many activities after school to have snacks.”

Between 1977 and 2002, the percent of the American population eating three or more snacks a day increased to 42 percent from 11 percent, according to a large study of American nutritional habits conducted by the Agriculture Department with the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the American Heart Association:

The prevalence of overweight (BMI-for-age values at or above the 95th percentile of the 2000 CDC growth charts in children ages 6–11) increased from 4.0 percent  in 1971–74 to 17.0 percent in 2003–06. The prevalence of overweight in adolescents ages 12–19 increased from 6.1 percent to 17.6 percent. (NHANES, NCHS)


  1. This is so true. In fact just yesterday we were talking about how it used to be so hard to keep kids inside. Now you have force them to go outside and play and even then they just go sit down and talk to their friends.

    What happened to the days when kids would rush home from school, grab their bikes and be off until dinner time?

    Now they rush home, go right to the kitchen to eat and ask when dinner is going to be. Then they go to thier computers or games and sit there until it's time to eat more.


  2. This issue is one of my hot buttons. I work with kids, so I see it first-hand. Now, I'll admit that my own two like to graze or snack, but I provide them with fresh fruit, whole fruit leathers, nutritious snack bars from Trader Joe's, etc. They are also both very active - I don't have to tell them to go outside to play, I have to tell them to come in!

    Remember when we were kids and their was the (one!) "fat kid" in class? Now, it's the thin ones that are the odd ones out. I often see children, as young as second grade, who weigh more than I do. When I taught kindergarten, I weighed about 105 and there were a couple of my students - 5 years old, mind you - who weighed more than I did. It is an absolute shame.

  3. Joanne, forgive me for not thanking you for your comment until now- thank you! When I was a kid we always played outside!

    Hi Tikimama, thanks for your comment. I've shared the same thought about how the odd kid out has changed in size over the years. Very sad!


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