Barbie puts on a few pounds

For years, Barbie’s come in different skin tones and hair styles. Now, little girls can play with a “curvy” (overweight) doll, as well as petite and tall models, reports Eliana Dockterman in  Time.

That’s supposed to help girls develop realistic expectations of what the human body looks like. “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, a Mattel senior vice president and global general manager of Barbie, in a statement.

Will Pudgy Ken be next?

However, Mattel’s tests showed little girls are not leading the fat acceptance movement, writes Dockterman She visited Mattel’s testing center, where a six-year-old girl gave the new Curvy Barbie a voice.

“Hello, I’m a fat person, fat, fat, fat,”

. . . When an adult comes into the room and asks her if she sees a difference between the dolls’ bodies, she modifies her language. “This one’s a little chubbier,” she says.

. . .  A shy 7-year-old refuses to say the word fat to describe the doll, instead spelling it out, “F, a, t.”

“I don’t want to hurt her feelings,” she says a little desperately.

“We see it a lot. The adult leaves the room and they undress the curvy Barbie and snicker a little bit,” says Tania Missad, who runs the research team for Mattel’s girls portfolio.

Most of the girls Dockterman observed chose their favorite doll based on hair, she writes. “A curvy, blue-haired doll that many girls dub Katy Perry is by far the most popular. But when asked which doll is Barbie, the girls invariably point to a blonde.”

Though she’s a billion-dollar brand, Barbie has been losing market share, writes Dockterman. “Hasbro won the Disney Princess business away from Mattel, just as Elsa from the film Frozen dethroned Barbie as the most popular girl’s toy.”

Elsa is thin — but “she comes with a backstory of strength and sisterhood.” And she’s got her own movie.

Healthy lunches = more veg in the trash


Before/after photos of lunch trays show vegetables often end up in the trash.

Federal school lunch rules require that children take a fruit or vegetable. Kids aren’t eating healthier, according to a new study. reports the Washington Post. Most of the healthy food ends up in the trash.

“The basic question we wanted to explore was: does requiring a child to select a fruit or vegetable actually correspond with consumption. The answer was clearly no,” Sarah Amin, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.

This salad, featuring raw green pepper and croutons, is supposed to contain chicken.

This salad, featuring raw green pepper and croutons, is supposed to contain chicken. Photo: Hans Pennink, AP

Children took 29 percent more fruit and vegetables after the rule went into effect, the study found. But their consumption of fruits and vegetables declined by 13 percent.

Food waste went up. In many cases, the researchers wrote, “children did not even taste the [fruits and vegetables] they chose at lunch.”

Last year, a Harvard study using a different methodology found students ate the same amount of fruit, but 16.2 percent more vegetables. However, students threw out 40 percent of fruit on their trays and 60 to 75 percent of vegetables.

Is Winnie the Pooh making your kids fat?

Children eat more cookies and candy after observing plump cartoon characters, concludes a University of Colorado study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Children 8, 12 and 13 years old ate “almost twice as much indulgent food as kids who are exposed to perceived healthier looking cartoon characters or no characters at all,” said researcher Margaret C. Campbell.

However, taking a quiz on health knowledge erased the effect of looking at an ovoid cartoon character. Children were asked to choose the healthier option represented in pictures and words — such as getting your sleep versus watching TV, soda versus milk and playing inside versus playing outside.

Parents “should think about the way they might be associating food with fun for kids — in the form of exposure to cartoon characters, for instance — as opposed to associating food with nutrition and the family structure,” said Campbell.

She praised Kellogg’s for making Tony the Tiger slimmer and more athletic, though he’s still promoting Frosted Flakes. Was Tony ever plump? I don’t recall that.

Cereal and Food Packaging

Some parents protest breakfast in class


At Mosk Elementary, a Los Angeles school, all students are served breakfast in class. Photo: Nick Ut, AP

Serving breakfast in first-period classes to all children is fueling a backlash from parents and teachers, reports AP. “They contend that it takes up class time that should be devoted to learning and wastes food by serving it to kids who don’t want or need it.”

Lilian Ramos, a mother of two elementary school children in a working-class Los Angeles neighborhood, said she takes offense at the district’s assumption that she hasn’t fed her children: She serves them a traditional Mexican breakfast each day.

“They say if kids don’t eat they won’t learn,” Ramos said. “The truth is that many of our kids come to school already having eaten. They come here to study.”

The number of school breakfasts served has more than doubled in the last 20 years. There’s more federal money available if everyone is served, even those who don’t come early to school and don’t qualify for a free or reduced-price meal.

Los Angeles Unified is serving in the classroom in almost every school. Parents at wealthier schools were allowed to opt out if less than 20 percent of students fall below the poverty line.

At Stanley Mosk Elementary, regarded as having a model breakfast program, teachers help distribute the meal, check off which students are eating and show a video to incorporate a nutrition lesson, all in 10 minutes. On a recent morning, students were given apples, cereal and a small, packaged breakfast sandwich. At the end of breakfast, there was a large cooler filled with uneaten breakfast sandwiches.

At UCLA Community School, where Ramos’ children attend, parents complained the in-class meals “took away instructional time from low-income and English-learner students,” reports AP. The district delayed, but will start serving in class soon.

Pink cookie is banned — and in demand

Pink cookies will not be sold at Elyria, Ohio schools, reports the Chronicle-Telegram. The popular cookies  — named Best Cafeteria Cookie by Cleveland magazine in 2009 — have too much real butter and sour cream icing to meet federal guidelines.

A tray of pink cookies are seen at Elyria Schools.  CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

“We could modify the recipe by changing the size, using whole-grain flour or putting on less icing, but in doing that you are not making the same cookies,”  said Scott Teaman, food services director with Sodexo Inc., the district’s contracted food provider. “There is only one way to do the pink cookie, and to do it any other way would not do it justice.”

Forty years ago, Jean Gawlik, the former food production manager for Elyria Schools, used her mother’s recipe for the pink cookies.

You can’t change the recipe of the pink cookie,” said Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda. “It’s like eating diet potato chips. It’s not right.” Pink cookies are “one of those things that’s special to our community.”

The cookie ban has spurred demand, reports Reason’s Hit & Run. The bakers are taking special orders for “the perfect cookie.”  If the district can figure out how to ship the cookies, they now have customers around the country and in Canada asking for a box of pinks.

42% of obese kids think their weight is normal

Forty-two percent of obese children and teens think their weight is normal, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. Among those who are overweight, about three quarters consider themselves to be “about the right weight.”

Half of underweight kids also say they’re normal.

Nearly a third of U.S. children are overweight or obese.


‘Walking school buses’ get kids moving

“Walking school buses” — kids walking home with an adult volunteer — are catching on from Iowa to Rhode Island, reports AP.

As a group of children walked home together from school in Providence, they held hands and played the “I Spy” guessing game. When they reached a busy intersection, an adult accompanying them prodded, “What’s the rule?”

“Behind the line!” they said in unison, as they stepped back from the edge of the curb and waited for the walk signal

“Walking school buses are . . . seen as a way to fight childhood obesity, improve attendance rates and ensure that kids get to school safely.”

About a third of children who live within a mile of school walk to school, according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School. Walking is increasing.

In the baby boom days, we all walked to school — without an adult — from kindergarten on. Uphill both ways, of course.

 

Kids won’t eat healthy school lunches

Making School Lunches Healthier Doesn’t Mean Kids Will Eat Them, writes Olga Khazan in The Atlantic.

Los Angeles Unified has been fighting childhood obesity for years: It ” outlawed sodas in schools in 2004, banned selling junk food on campus, and swapped the bulk of its canned and frozen produce for fresh,” writes Khazan. Still,  42 percent of students are overweight or obese.

In 2011, the district went after school lunches.

. .  .the new menus were the most austere measure yet, cutting kid-friendly favorites like chocolate milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and nachos. Instead, little Jayden and Mia would dine would dine on vegetarian curries, tostada salad, and fresh pears.

A student rebellion ensued—kids brought Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to school rather than much on quinoa salad—and L.A. Unified was forced to settle for a middle ground between Alice Waters and Ronald McDonald.

Under the new new menu, “Hamburgers will be offered daily,” the L.A. Times reported. “Some of the more exotic dishes are out, including the beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads. And the Caribbean meatball sauce will be changed to the more familiar teriyaki flavor.”

But students are still “beelining toward carbs and meat and avoiding fruits and vegetables,” according to a study in the April issue of Preventative Medicine. Examining middle schoolers lunch trays, researchers found that “32 percent of students did not take the fruit from the line, and almost 40 percent did not take the vegetables. Among those who did take a fruit or vegetable, 22 percent threw away the fruit and 31 percent tossed the vegetables without eating a single bite.”

 So in essence, just over half the students both took and ate some fruit, and about 42 percent both took and ate a vegetable.

Salads were the most common vegetable to be left untouched, while whole fruits, like apples and oranges, were far less popular than fruit cups or juices.

Food waste totals at least $100,000 a day, estimates the Times.

School districts are losing their paying lunchers because of new federal regulations, reports Reason. Congressional Republicans may give money-losing districts a one-year waiver of federal regulations, reports Reason.

Michelle Obama adamantly opposes any changes, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Other proposed changes include “scrapping a requirement that foods be 100% whole-grain by July 2014 and sticking with the current 50% target; holding to the newly enacted standard for sodium rather than a lower target scheduled to go into effect in a few years; and eliminating the requirement that students take a fruit or vegetable, regardless of whether they plan to eat it.”

One of my stepdaughter is a nutritionist who designs school lunches. The insanely complex guidelines must be met every day, she says. It’s not possible to go a little under in one category on Monday and make it up on Tuesday.

Fat or fit?

This nine-year-old — 4-foot-1 and 66 pounds — is overweight, according to a “Fitnessgram” sent home by her Staten Island school. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God! Why did I get this?’” Gwendolyn Williams said.

Photo: New York Post, Stephen Yang.

Photo: New York Post, Stephen Yang.

 Nearly a third of the world’s population is overweight or obese, according to a new report. The rate for children is up by 47 percent from 1980 to 2013.  About 23 percent of children in developed countries were found to be overweight or obese. Even in poor countries, there are more overweight kids.

Governor rejects chocolate milk ban

Chocolate milk will not be banned in Connecticut schools. Gov. Dannel Malloy will not sign a last-minute bill that inadvertently bans chocolate milk. Lawmakers were trying to comply with new federal school lunch standards on sodium. They didn’t realize they were outlawing the most popular form of milk in school lunches.

Chocolate milk provides calcium, vitamin A, potassium and other nutrients, said Lonnie Burt, the chief nutritionist of Hartford Public Schools. “If chocolate milk is not one of the available options, then I believe students will decrease consumption of milk overall,” Burt said.