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Food News Wrap: June 24

School’s out – finally – and it’s time to think about how we are going to be nourishing our kids over the summer. Will it be a fresh, farm-picked fruits-and-veggies kind of summer? Or will it be more about the soda, chips, and fries?

We started asking ourselves this question after we saw today’s New York Times article about a healthy kids’ camp in the Bay Area where a director asserted that kids are twice as likely to gain weight over the summer as during the school year. Really? With all of the running around that they do?

Well, yes. Because for many kids if they’re not in school, sadly, they are at home watching TV and eating chips (apparently the biggest contributor to weight gain over time, according to a new study). Other more fortunate kids are at the pool, at camps, or at parties — but even at those places the most popular food choices likely include soda, juices, pizza, hot dogs, cake, ice cream, cookies, and of course more chips. And a few of the luckiest kids may get to go to local fairs or festivals, where they may encounter such abominations as fried Kool-Aid, deep-fried peanut butter or even deep-fried butter.

All of this makes us even more curious about a new report that came out in the journal Pediatrics, which found that television coverage of childhood obesity is less likely than print media to focus on the role of the food and beverage industry. So while TV news reports tend to emphasize things like diet and lifestyle changes, they are less likely to mention system-level solutions — like creating playgrounds or making sure that healthy foods are available in poor neighborhoods – or potential changes in the food and beverage industry (where many of their advertising dollars come from).

But wait – don’t go bashing the food and beverage industry just yet! We did get a little blip of good news this week when Jack in the Box announced that they would no longer be offering toys in their kids’ meals. In fact, they’re going to offer apple slices instead. A Jack in the Box spokesman tells the L.A. Times: “Rather than promote a toy we’ve focused on the quality of products in our Kid’s Meals, like a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough, grilled or crispy chicken strips, or a hamburger…We believe that providing these kinds of options is more appealing to a parent than packaging a toy with lower-quality fare.”

Oh – and one more thing: Bon Appetit did a taste test of supermarket hot dogs, and – surprise! – One of the brands that the nutritionist ranked as “better-for-you” was also in the top three for taste. Your backyard barbecue just got a little bit happier now, didn’t it? Maybe this summer won’t be so hard on everyone’s waistlines after all. Now go forth and eat fruit, and drink plenty of water!

Happy weekend to all.

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