If you’re around my age, you may remember when almost every commercial for cereal ended with the tagline: Part of this nutritious breakfast! Or, Part of this balanced breakfast! The “balanced” breakfast shown was always a bowl of cereal, two pieces of toast (because the cereal alone didn’t provide enough processed grain), a glass of milk and a glass of juice – usually orange juice.
Here are a couple of collections of old cereal ads I found on YouTube. The first is from the 1970s, the second from the 1980s:
Boy, cereal had some great flavors back in the day: chocolate, sugar, honey, cinnamon toast, more sugar, marshmallows, rocky road ice cream, even more sugar, and chocolate chip cookies. Trust me, Kellogg’s and General Mills had no problem convincing us to eat those “balanced” breakfasts. I think we may be looking at part of the reason rates of obesity began to take off around 1980.
Just for grins, I took clips from the videos above and stitched them into a little summary of my own:
Let’s look at the nutrition breakdown of that “balanced” breakfast the cereal manufacturers were promoting back then. Officially, a serving of cereal is cup or a half-cup, depending on the brand, but if you look at the commercials, those cereal bowls hold more like two cups – and I didn’t know any kids who ate just one cup of cereal for breakfast. They were called cereal bowls for a reason.
So I’ll go with two cups of Frosted Flakes, 2% milk (which is what we drank when I was an adolescent), Parkay Margarine (which was mostly trans fat back then) and Minute Maid orange juice from concentrate, the kind your mom mixed with water. Here’s what we get:
Frosted Flakes (2 cups)
Protein: 2.7 g
Carbs: 75 g
Sugar: 32 g
Fat: 2 g
2% Milk (2 cups)
Protein: 16 g
Carbs: 23 g
Sugar 23 g
Fat: 10 g
Toast (2 slices)
Protein: 4 g
Carbs: 28 g
Sugar: 4 g
Fat: 2 g
Parkay Margarine (2 tbs)
Fat: 14 g
Minute Maid Orange Juice (8 oz)
Carbs: 27 g
Sugar: 24 g
Okay, let’s add up that nutritious breakfast:
Protein: 22.7 g
Carbs: 153 g
Sugar: 83 g
Fat: 28 g
As a percent of calories, it works out to about 65% carbohydrate, 10% protein and 25% fat. Hey, I’ll be darned if those aren’t the proportions recommended by the USDA! No wonder people in my generation are so remarkably lean and free of diabetes.
I believe (or hope, anyway) that most parents these days know that cereals full of chocolate and marshmallows aren’t health food. But I’d bet many of them still believe a glass of orange juice is part of a nutritious breakfast.
Take a look at the sugar content in that glass of orange juice listed above. It’s a Coke with a bit of vitamin C. Now take a look at part of the abstract from a study in which investigators included orange juice with breakfast for one of the study groups, but not the other.
On 2 separate days, healthy normal-weight adolescents (n = 7) and adults (n = 10) consumed the same breakfast with either orange juice or drinking water and sat at rest for 3 h after breakfast. The meal paired with orange juice was 882 kJ (210 kcal) higher than the meal paired with drinking water. Both meals contained the same amount of fat (12 g). For both age groups, both meals resulted in a net positive energy balance 150 min after breakfast. Resting fat oxidation 150 min after breakfast was significantly lower after breakfast with orange juice, however. The results suggest that, independent of a state of energy excess, when individuals have a caloric beverage instead of drinking water with a meal, they are less likely to oxidize the amount of fat consumed in the meal before their next meal.
If you’re not oxidizing fat, you’re storing it. That’s why we never include orange juice (or apple juice, or grape juice, or any other fruit juice) in the nutritious breakfasts we serve at home – much less cereal and toast.
As I mentioned in the follow-up sequence in the director’s cut of Fat Head, my girls have never had a single cavity. To encourage them to keep that streak going, I made a deal with them a couple of years ago: if you get to age 16 without a cavity, Daddy will contribute $1,000 to your “I want my own car” fund. (Then Daddy will endure some sleepless nights when they start driving.)
Sadly, cavity-free kids seem to be increasingly rare. Both of my daughters told me they have classmates who’ve already had several cavities. Alana has a classmate who has already had 10 of them – at age 7. I wondered if kids are developing more cavities these days, or if I’m just paying more attention now because I’m a dad.
In a swift-stepping society, more meals are being consumed on the move, quick bites taken on the run and fruits eaten on the fly. That translates to fast food, snack food and inordinate amounts of sugar intake, resulting in an increase in pediatric cavities that is at an all-time high, according to the N.C. Dental Society.
The research is confirmed by dentist Dr. Jerry Laws, who has practiced in Lexington since 1977.
“We are seeing that more than we used to. There are several causes, and it is preventable.”
In a press release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 28 percent of preschoolers in the U.S. experience decay in primary or “baby teeth.” And for the first time in four decades the number is increasing. Currently, among children 2 to 5 years old, one in five has untreated cavities.
“There are several causes (of rapid tooth decay),” Laws says, and points out that most relate to contemporary diets. “Also, children are going to bed with sippy cups. Another thing is bottled water, which doesn’t have fluoride. Children should at least have some water from the tap, which is fluoridated.”
The economy also plays a role in tooth decay, Laws said. “A lack of insurance is a reason. Some people are out of work and without insurance, and some have to put off visits to the dentist … something that can’t be helped.”
A lack of insurance would explain why some kids end up with untreated cavities. It doesn’t explain why they’re developing those cavities in the first place. Our Paleolithic ancestors apparently had good teeth (more on that shortly), and they rarely purchased dental insurance.
By pure coincidence, I had a conversation with a co-worker today who speculated that he had a lot of cavities as a kid because his family’s water supply (a well) wasn’t fluoridated. Okay, yes, that may figure into it. But again, our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t put fluoride in their streams and springs. Fluoride is, if anything, protection against dental decay that shouldn’t develop in the first place.
I agree with the writer of the article that sugar intake is the likely culprit for the rise in pediatric cavities over the last few decades, but I know from personal experience that it’s possible to develop cavities on a sugar-free diet. During my vegetarian days, I didn’t consume sugar – I was, after all, a health-conscious vegetarian, and I knew sugar was bad news. Nonetheless, I continued to develop the occasional cavity and ended up experiencing the joys of a gum graft (ouch) when my gums receded.
I didn’t eat sugar, but I did eat plenty of hearthealthywholegrains, which, according to a recent study, are probably a big part of the reason humans began developing cavities in the first place:
Mesolithic hunter-gatherers living on a meat-dominated, grain-free diet had much healthier mouths that we have today, with almost no cavities and gum disease-associated bacteria, a genetic study of ancient dental plaque has revealed.
The researchers extracted DNA from dental plaque from 34 prehistoric northern European human skeletons, and traced the changes in the nature of oral bacteria from the last hunter-gatherers to Neolithic and medieval farmers and modern individuals.
“Dental plaque represents the only easily accessible source of preserved human bacteria,” says lead author Dr Christina Adler, now associate lecturer in dentistry at the University of Sydney.
The researchers found the composition of bacteria changed with the introduction of farming and again 150 years ago during the Industrial Revolution.
In contrast to the hunter-gatherer and early agriculturist diet, a modern diet full of refined carbohydrates and sugars has given us mouths dominated by cavity-causing bacteria.
Setting aside the desire for a photogenic smile, poor dental health is often a reflection of poor health in general. (It was a decline in dental health among his patients over the years that inspired Dr. Weston A. Price to travel the world and compare the health effects of traditional diets vs. modern diets.) It’s a bit silly to believe that hearthealthywholegrains are protecting our cardiovascular systems even as they’re ruining our teeth. Yet that’s what the experts have been telling us for decades.
The results will no doubt be good news for advocates of the so-called ‘paleolithic diet’ – high in meat, low in grains.
Yup, we’re smiling at the news. I haven’t had a cavity in years now. I also haven’t had a cold sore, canker sore, or any other kind of mouth sore. Same goes for Chareva and the girls. The girls also seem to be developing nice, wide jaws. They may avoid needing braces, even though Chareva and I both had them.
I’m looking forward to forking over those $1,000 contributions.
Vicki Keller of the Health Seeker blog sent me a link to an interesting documentary about genetically modified foods and the possible negative effects they’re having on our health. The filmmaker is putting the film, Genetic Roulette, on YouTube for free viewing for one week only. So if you want to see it, now’s your chance. Let me know what you think.
I finally received a link to the “We Are Hungry” video that I could view. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is:
I love this video not just because it’s funny, but also because ridicule can be an effective political tool. The overlords don’t like it when the common people start laughing at them. You can get angry, you can protest in the street, you can call your representatives and complain, etc., but those actions don’t knock the overlords from their mental pedestals. Being publicly ridiculed is another matter. When people are laughing at you, they are above you. There’s a reason we refer to ridicule as “looking down” on someone.
Back in the 1990s, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided the Hooters restaurant chain was being unfair to men by hiring only young, pretty women as waitresses. Never mind that Hooters employed plenty of men as cooks, dishwashers, managers, etc. … nope, by gosh, if a restaurant whose entire marketing strategy was built around pretty waitresses in skimpy outfits refused to hire men to wait tables, something bad was going on and the overlords needed to fix it. So the EEOC demanded that Hooters change the very concept that had made it a successful chain and pony up millions of dollars in back pay to men the restaurants never hired.
Hooters could have fought back with high-priced attorneys (which they probably did), but they also understood and employed the power of ridicule. They placed ads like the one you see below in newspapers and on billboards.
One full-page ad placed in newspapers featured the same guy you see in the billboard. The text simply read: What’s wrong with this picture? Your government.
The EEOC dropped the case and (laughably) accused Hooters of intimidation. Sure, we all know how easy it is to intimidate a federal agency. The “intimidation” was the company’s successful strategy of encouraging ordinary citizens to laugh at their government overlords.
Let’s hope the USDA feels equally intimidated soon.
Statistics that show obesity is a growing problem prompted an overhaul of the nation’s school lunch menus. The new rules require twice as many fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and less sodium and fat. And some students aren’t very happy about the changes.
I noticed the reporter doesn’t even ask himself if the overhaul will actually reduce obesity. In fact, I’ve yet to read a mainstream media article which raises that question. Reporters all seem to accept that more fruits, vegetables, healthywholegrains and reductions in fat and sodium are good ideas that the kids just don’t happen to like.
On Tuesday, Congresswoman Kristi Noem sat down with students in Pierre to see what they think of the new menu.
It’s nice that a Congresswoman is listening to kids in her district, but once again, somebody in the mainstream media should be asking the Big Question: Why should school-lunch menus be a federal issue in the first place? By what strange reasoning do we accept that politicians and bureaucrats in Washington are better qualified than parents and local officials to decide what kids in South Dakota should be eating for lunch? The issue here shouldn’t be whether or not we (or a Congressperson) can somehow convince the school-lunch overlords to let kids eat more of what they want. The issue should be the very existence of school-lunch overlords.
With the new federal regulations, kids can’t pass up both the fruits and veggies when going through the lunch line anymore.
Pretty please, take a moment and think about the utter arrogance underlying that rule.
What, you don’t want a fruit or vegetable on your plate? Too friggin’ bad. We in the USDA have decided you will put a fruit or vegetable on your plate, period. We know what’s best for you.
So we’ve got do-gooder officials in Washington telling kids in our district in Tennessee what they can and cannot – and must – put on their plates. Parents, teachers, local administrators, the kids themselves – their preferences don’t enter into it.
Here’s more of the same arrogance in a reply by a USDA official:
“One thing I think we need to keep in mind as kids say they’re still hungry is that many children aren’t used to eating fruits and vegetables at home, much less at school. So it’s a change in what they are eating. If they are still hungry, it’s that they are not eating all the food that’s being offered,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton said.
Got that? If the kids are hungry, it’s their fault for not eating the fruits and vegetables the overlords at the USDA have insisted must go on their plates. It couldn’t possibly be that fruits and vegetables – which have little or no protein or fat – just aren’t very filing. It couldn’t possibly be that the USDA experts are friggin’ clueless about what a growing child or active teenager needs to get through the day without going hungry. No, by gosh, we’re from the government and we’re here to help.
I hope students all over the country rise up against this nanny-state, paternalistic nonsense. I hope they coordinate their protests through social media and make it a nationwide revolt. Come on, kids, take a stand. Start an Occupy The Cafeteria movement. When government officials start telling you what you can and cannot eat, it’s time to raise hell.
On Monday, 70% of the 830 Mukwonago High students who normally buy lunch boycotted cafeteria food to protest what they see as an unfair “one size fits all thing.” Middle schoolers in the district also boycotted their school lunches, with counts down nearly half Monday. They’re not alone in their frustration; schools across the country are reporting students who are unhappy with the lunch offerings.
On a positive note, the students are (I hope) learning a valuable lesson: a “one size fits all thing” is what you get whenever big-government types get involved. Mayor Bloomberg in New York isn’t telling the small fraction of the population whose blood pressure is affected by sodium to restrict salt. Nope, he wants to mandate a low-sodium diet for everyone who buys packaged food in his kingdom … er, city. The USDA doesn’t tell people to eat a high-carbohydrate diet unless they happen to be diabetic. Nope, a high-carb diet is right for everyone. One size fits all.
But of course, students aren’t all one size, as the article noted:
“A freshman girl who weighs 100 pounds can eat this lunch and feel completely full, maybe even a little bloated,” said Joey Bougneit, a Mukwonago senior. But Blohm [mentioned earlier in the article] is a 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound linebacker.
I remember watching the guys on my high school’s football team eat lunch. They piled food on their plates and went back for seconds or dessert. Well, go figure. They lifted weights or practiced in the morning, then had practice again after school. Those practices were grueling. They had a tough coach who led them to the state finals, even though they were the underdogs throughout the playoffs. (They lost in the championship game, dangit.) If they’d been limited to 850 calories for lunch, as the new federal guidelines dictate, I can imagine the headline in the school paper:
Newly Svelte Football Team Loses Five Straight
Sure, there was a lot of junk on the menu when I was in high school. I wouldn’t recommend corn dogs and pizza to student athletes or anyone else. But we’re not going to produce lean, healthy kids by forcing them to eat the low-fat, calorie-restricted meals the nanny-staters have decided is good for them. They’ll just eat more later, bring their own lunches, or flat-out rebel, as they did in Wisconsin.
The new school year has barely begun, but there’s already been one “dropout” at Staples High School. No, it’s not a student throwing in the towel just weeks into the academic cycle, but new dietary rules governing how sandwiches are made in the Staples cafeteria that — after a chorus of student objections — have been dropped.
Despite what may have been the federal Department of Agriculture’s best intentions, the guidelines to promote healthier eating implemented at the start of the year were on the menu only a few days.
Well, government officials always have the best of intentions when they institute stupid policies, don’t they? But despite those fine intentions, here’s what the students wanted:
School officials reassessed the policy and opted to put more meat into it after listening to students’ complaints.
Yup. The students wanted more meat on their sandwiches. More meat and more cheese.
“They were charging the same price for a quarter of what we were getting,” said Devon Lowman, 17, a Staples senior who organized a petition among students that called for changes in the sandwich policy.
Last year, he said, for $4 students got “as much meat and as much cheese and other toppings as you wanted on sandwiches,” as well as a choice from eight kinds of bread. “What it had come to was only three choices of bread (and) two slices of meat.”
The two breads that were not verbotten were – you guessed it – healthywholegrain breads. The purpose of limiting meat and cheese in school lunches is to limit fat. So we’ve got calorie-limited meals based on grains, fruits and vegetables, with restrictions on meat, cheeses and other foods that provide both fat and protein. Care to take a wild guess what the geniuses in government named this program?
The new regulations are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was recently enacted.
“Uh … excuse me, could I please have more meat on my sandwich?”
“No. That would violate the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.”
“But I’m still hungry when I eat these sandwiches. I really want more meat.”
“I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to be hungry. Giving you more meat would violate the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.”
The good news is that the principal in Connecticut listened to the students’ complaints and changed school policy. The bad news is that a lot other principals probably won’t.