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Kids' Healthy Eating: Sesame Street Improves Childhood Nutrition One Muppet at a Time

Posted: 12/11/10 11:38 AM ET

I am very excited about Sesame Street's new wellness initiative, called "Food for Thought." This new segment will guide and educate children on the importance of eating healthy and the nation's current "food insecurity" crisis.

Food insecurity is a growing problem in which children are deprived of sufficiently nutritious foods because of the cost. Instead, they are receiving low-budget, fast, canned and packaged foods because fresh food is too expensive. Approximately 17 million children in the United States are food insecure and more than half of them are under age six. This is leading to one of our nation's greatest woes: childhood obesity and, eventually, increased health risks.

This week, Sesame Street implemented four new Muppets, called "Superfoods." The Superfood cast consists of a banana, a brick of low-fat cheese, a whole wheat bun and a stalk of broccoli.

A Google preview of the segment aired for this first time on Tuesday, and I must say that I was very impressed. The song, called "Try, Try Again," was admittedly catchy and I found that the interaction between characters was simple and understandable -- even for a two-year-old.

In the skit, Elmo tries "healthy" food, presented by these Superfoods. The skit conveys his initial fear of trying the new foods, which is a very common emotion that children experience. Afterwards, Elmo tastes the foods for a second time. Kids learn that even if they dislike a food the first time they try it, that they can change their palettes and eventually enjoy the new flavors.

This, in my opinion, is so necessary.

According to a survey by The Nielsen Co., children ages two through 11 watch approximately 23.5 hours of TV per week. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids watch under two hours of TV per day, there will always be children that watch too much. Instead of having children's TV heroes obsessed with candy and sugar, why not teach them to look up to characters who are shown to love healthy foods and live healthy lifestyles?

In my book, "The Food Cure for Kids," I insist that our current ways of eating (processed and unnatural foods) are unfamiliar to our genes and are causing malfunctions at every level of our health. Children need the phytochemicals that are found in fruits, vegetables, and other plants to protect their bodies from disease. They need healthy foods to keep their bodies and brains strong. Teaching healthy habits will lead to better overall performance of our nation's children, in school, in sports and in life. So why not follow Sesame Street's lead?

In a similar light, San Francisco became the first major city to prohibit restaurants from providing a free toy with meals that exceed a certain level of calories, sugar and fat. That means goodbye to McDonald's fatty meals and the incentive for children to order them.

All these initiatives, big and small, are ways to get our children on the right path of health and healthy eating habits. Let's hope that some of these lessons rub off on parents too!

 

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