Thursday, February 08, 2007
Cupcake controversy
Today, I am going to blog about cupcakes. Yes, this surprises even me. There's a story circulating about school districts banning cupcakes and other non-nutritious treats from schools, even for birthdays and other events. Cupcakes, lathered with sticky frosting and rainbow sprinkles... mmm... are under fire. (Watch Video )

The arguments are easy to state on each side. On one hand, childhood obesity rates are killing America's youth. The rates are starting to approach 20 percent, and our junk food diets are a large part of that equation. Add in that cupcakes have increased tremendously in size. They used to be golf-ball sized. Some are now bigger than softballs. If there are around 25 kids in a classroom, and several holidays, all of a sudden you have lots of calories on lots of days. Those who oppose cupcakes say they are non-nutritious and have no place in the schools.

There are, however, plenty of cupcake defenders springing up all over the country. In Texas, Democratic state Rep Jim Dunnam has been one of the most vocal. He sponsored legislation to allow parents to bring in whatever they want. He became involved after one of the schools in his district banned a father from bringing non-nutritious food to his child's class for a birthday. Dunnam's argument is that cupcakes aren't the problem. Instead, it is lack of activity and overall diet.

No doubt, it is controversial, more so than I would've thought. One school superintendent, who chose not to be named, actually received threatening e-mail after her school district supported the ban. What do you think? Is banning cupcakes going too far? Or, is it a logical way to target the childhood obesity epidemic?
I think this debate is ridiculous and without merit. First of all to ban cupcakes simply because a child is obese is ludicruous. If we go there then why not ban water? A lady died of drinking too much water lately. Or better yet why not ban chocolate? Chocolate is fattening but we have shown it has health benefits. So if the cupcakes were chocolate would that make a difference? Anything in excess could be harmful, but psychologist have proven that to completely deny of yourself of a treat every now and then could actually have reverse effects. It could make you want it more and therefore when you finally get that cupcake, instead of eating just that one, your body goes into overload and wants more. I think our focus needs to be on more important issues. School violence, better education, more skilled teachers. Not cupcakes!
I have to say I am not surprised that it has come to this, I mean there is no pledge of allegance, no voluntary prayer clubs, no having Christmas or Thanksgiving type celebrations in schools because these things "MIGHT" offend someone so the next logical step was for a bunch of strict no "cheating" health food eatting parents to complain. I mean honestly lets say that you have 1 Birthday a month how many pounds does that actually add in a year with no excercise? Maybe 2 or 3, I mean when I drive through a elementary school zone during recess I never see all the students just sitting around talking or reading a book they are always running, jumping rope, playing kick ball or basketball. I have to say with my 9 year old son I am not as concerned about an occasional cupcake as I am the whole all I wanna do is play video games all day. If I absolutely could not get him outside for a couple of hours a day then I might start restricting what he eats at home but not at school. What kind of celebration of a childs birthday would it be with celery with peanutbutter on it? Save that for an after school snack.(besides most kids would eat the peanutbutter and leave the celery anyway)
I ate all kinds of junkfood as a kid....and I was always thin. Why? Because instead of sitting in front of the tv or a video game for 5 hours a day I was running around outside with my friends. Kick those kids off the couch and you wont have to worry about cupcakes in the classroom.
Instead of banning cupcakes and other "junk" food that the kids only get on special occasions, they should be more worried about increasing the length of time kids spend at recess or gym. When I was a kid, we had gym class everday, along with recess. My son only has it twice a week. They cut out all the physical activity during the school day and when the kids start packing on pounds - they blame cupcakes!?
It's a parent's responsibility to make sure their child has good eating habits and healthy food to eat at home. It's not the school's job to police what parents bring for birthday celebrations. Let kids be kids and have a cupcake every now and then.
In today�s world it is not surprising that people would want to ban cupcakes. We allow cities to enforce curfew, so that parents don't have to be the bad guys, legislate discipline methods and sit back and wonder what is wrong. Parents need to take responsibility for raising their kids and not expect the police or schools to do so. Parents also need to be flexible enough to know and accept that others feel differently than they do. If a parent is concerned with obesity in their children than they need to take the time to engage their children in activities that encourage exercise.
This is a ridiculous ban and has gone too far in terms of needless regulations. The problem of obesity is far more complicated then a couple of cupcakes. Those children who are obese will not be so adversly affected by one cupcake and those who aren't should not be adversly punished. Rather schools should focus on lunches, gym classes which have been removed from many schools, and teaching nutrition to parents and children so that it becomes a way of life. Then maybe kids will learn that the first cupcake isn't the problem, but reaching for the second or third is. They will be empowered to make healthy choices for themselves rather than it being mandated.
I for one would not want my child eating anything in the classroom that I did not provide to him myself. I, and I alone should determine whether or not my child eats junk food. Cupcakes are junk, and I would certainly not serve my son a cupcake at home, so why should some other kid's parent decide for me that he can have one at school? If he or she doesn't care what their kids eat, fine. But I do care about the diet of my son. I don't see the need for kids to be eating between meals at school anyway. There are other ways to wish someone a happy birthday that don't involve the degradation of one's health.
Cupcakes. That's what is making us and our kids fat. It couldn't be that the elementary school kids don't get recess. I remember getting a morning recess, an afternoon recess and we got to go out after lunch. Now the schools give no recess because government regs require so many hours of classroom time. Meanwhile, kids get either fat (oh, I'm sorry, obese) or are diagnosed with attention problems and given ritalin. Let's do a study and see if there is a correlation between increasing weight and ritalin prescriptions versus the decrease in recesses and gym classes in schools. That might be interesting.
I totally applaud schools' efforts to bring in more nutritious foods for lunch, and regulating what can be in the vending machines - don't let junk food companies target and exploit kids while they are in school. However, to ban all sweets is just not a proportional response. In so many problem areas of culture, people overreact, oversimplify problems, and come up with superficial responses. Yes, most kids eat too many sweets and should exercise more. But the problems are really deep-rooted. For example: 1) Many parents are trapped in an economic system where they have to work long hours just to support their families, and are unable to monitor their kids effectively. 2) Kids are spending more and more time sitting down and studying for school - schools are having to teach to these stupid tests and advanced material is being increasingly taught to younger children, extending the time they spend on schoolwork and homework, at the expense of gym, recess, and playing outside. 3) Sedentary activities like reading, studying, internet-ing, and gaming are attractive to many kids, providing mental stimulation and entertainment without physical exertion. 4) Younger kids may have difficulty participating in sports and extracurriculars if parents are not able to play chauffer (sp?) on demand. 5) Older kids may not be able to participate in school sports because of mandatory drug tests or because they lack funds for equipment, transportation, etc. 6) Junk food is routinely marketed to children, increasing the demand for junk food in the most impressionable demographic group. 7) Families on a limited budget may be unable to afford healthy food alternatives for their children. 8) Our high-fructose corn syrup-rich diet results from our inability to import sugar from places like Cuba because of trade embargoes - so our companies have to turn to the high-fructose corn syrup because it isn't economically practical to use real sugar, which isn't quite as unhealthy as hfcs! 9) Who knows what effect the onslaught of growth hormones in our food supply is having on children! and 10) Our whole culture of materialism, consumerism, immediate gratification and self-indulgence are all contributing to eating attitudes and habits. By blaming scapegoats (cupcakes, video games) for the current child health crisis, we ignore the real social, political, and economic problems that are at work, and we hinder the search for real, workable solutions.

On a side note, if parents don't like their children playing sedentary video games, there are plenty of exercise-oriented video games that kids love, and that are fun for them to play in groups - this fact often gets ignored, and by characterizing video games as bad for kids, parents and schools are dismissing one of the best tools to get kids up and exercising! Everyone should try to approach this issue from a reasonable and holistic perspective in order to really solve the problems of unhealthy children.
I am in full support of NON_FOOD birthday and holiday celebrations. There are an increasingly high number of kids with life-threatening food allergies, Diabetes, and Obesity. It will only take once for a child to suffer a life-threatening food allergic reaction for schools and parents to realize they need to allow non-food celebrations only. You may argue that kids with life-threatening food allergies, diabetes, or obesity do not have to take part, but this would be exclusionary. I don't know of any parent who would want to exclude a child from a celebration. It is fine to celebrate, just do it with a non-food alternative.
Allow the cupcakes but put a restriction on how large they are and how many for each child. They are good for morale and encourage students to enjoy school more.
Banning cupcakes from school? whats next, that is the silliest thing ive ever heard, simple solution, if there are parents who object to there children having a cupcake for a birthday, let your childs teacher know that you prefer your child not be given one, you could even provide a particular snack to be given to your child instead. why should the whold class suffer?
Maybe if they put a cap on the individual weight of the cupcakes allowed or the height or overall size of the cupcakes. That way, both sides win.
Celebrate the child, not the food. Food is NOT necessary. Children are just as happy to celebrate by handing out stickers, pencils, yo-yos, beach balls, super balls, to classmates. I think the adults have a more difficult time accepting non-food ideas. There's more to a celebration than cupcakes and cookies...let's support our children and show them a good example by teaching them it's not all about food.
I saw a news report on this recently. Locally, the spin that schools are putting on this is the nutrition angle. But here is the confusing part: parents cannot bring "home-made" treats, the treats have to be "store bought". This is healthier how? I am glad to be past school aged children. Although I feel for my granchildren.
Sanjay,

I am a first grade school teacher in Martin, TN. Each year we see an increase in obese children. Diabetes is creeping into the primary grades at an alarming rate. School nurses are stretched thin and we as teachers are faced with the task of monitoring blood sugar levels and dietary intake on a day to day basis. Often it is overwhelming to deal with health issues when we are trying to teach and make sure "no child is left behind".
Cupcakes aren't the real issue here. Working parents, video games, television habits, fast food and sedentary lifestyles have all contributed to a generation of obese young people in our country.
An occasional cupcake isn't going to cause a child to be obese however a daily diet of video games, televison and fast food accompanied by a side order of "no exercise" can provide unhealthy opportunities that invade our young people.
I am sick of individuals as well as institutions banning this and banning that. It is the choices of the individual person or the choices of the kids parents that make the problems. Personal beliefs and eating habits are just that, personal and should not be pushed on others. Cupcakes for many of us are wonderful memories of our childhood. I fear children today will not have very pleasant memories due to the number of restrictions placed on them by adults.
My son was 6 lbs. 5 oz. when he was born and always fell below the 50th percentile for weight. When he started Kindergarten in 2002 the State of Pennsylvania had just implemented the BMI screening as part of their overall "health report card". I was shocked when his BMI put him in the "at risk for obesity" category. By all accounts he was 9 pounds over where he should have been for his age and height. We immediately made changes to our entire family's diet. We removed most if not all refined sugar from our pantry, limited the meals including pasta and rice, started with more fruits and vegetables and started getting outside and running around more. Now my son is in 3rd grade and while he has not gained any "excess" weight he still falls under the same "at risk" category. After consulting a nutritionist she explained that it wasn't necessary to eliminate these things entirely, but to simply limit them. She advised that he should be allowed 30 "free" servings in a year for birthday celebrations etc. So while I don't feel a ban on cupcakes is necessary, I think parents should think about other alternatives to offer. Fruit kabobs on decorative sticks, cheese and crackers or even frozen yogurt would be a better choice. As a pre-school teacher I've seen children who normally wouldn't choose fruit or cheese over a cupcake or cookie, be happy with the healthy snack if that's all that's offered. I've also been hearing a lot of controversey about this screening and how parents are offended that their child is being labeled. If the school told you they could swab your childs mouth and determine if they were at risk for cancer or diabetes would you complain or would you use that as a tool to make sure your child got a more complete evaluation to rule it out. Childhood obesiety is becoming and epidemic in our country and I feel by not having this valuable screening process available we are doing more harm than good to our children. Many people have commented that once he has a growth spurt everything will even out. Even if that does occur, I'm comforted by the thought they we have taught him healthly eating habits and portion sizing. These are things he will take with him the rest of his long, healthy life.
I'm so sick of the FOOD POLICE trying to monitor everything we eat. I've seen first hand what the denial of sweet snacks can do to someone, but no one wants to talk about that. My cousin was denied all sorts of snacks, sweet and otherwise growing up, so what happened you ask. Well, as soon as she had money of her own she would go to the store and buy all the sweets she wanted. This has continued to this day and she is almost 50 years old. I on the other hand had sweets and fun snacks while growing up, we even had tons of ice cream in the freezer because dad loved it so much. If there was less than two gallons in there, as far as he was concerned we were out of ice cream and needed to get more. Because we had this in the house all the time, I don't think having ice cream is all that special and I only eat it once in a while. Well there was also a side benefit to all his ice cream eating, when he got older and was falling quite a bit he never broke a bone.

Kids need to get out more and play and schools need to focus on more activity that all kids can participate in, not just the ones where kids can afford the equipment. The school system is failing these kids because they cut back the gym programs. Parents need to take a handle on what they eat at home because if you are just providing healthy food at school it's not going to make one bit of difference if they are eating McDonald's at home for dinner 4-5 times a week.

And, for the non-food supporters, glad to see that you have so much money to afford stickers and such to give out to an entire classroom. And where will the "giveaways" stop when parents try to one up each other in what they give out. Don't say it won't happen, just take a hard look at the out of control birthday parties for kids these days. A box of cake mix and ingredients is far less expensive and all families can afford it.

Cupcakes aren't the problem.
I think the focus of the ban needs to be widened. My daughter has multiple food allergies, including peanuts, egg and dairy. This precludes her from ever being able to partake of the majority of cupcakes. I think it is unfair that parents are not more sensitive to all needs in the classroom. Type I diabetes and food allergies are just as good a reason to ban cupcakes, if not better, than childhood obesity.
I agree with Dunna's argument is that cupcakes aren't the problem. It is lack of activity and overall diet and lack of parent's proper supervision. My little boys eat health food and occasionally eat sweets, including cupcakes, and then we take them to the park to run around.
While some of these bans are in the name of nutrition, I know of other reasons that schools ban food from outside sources, or homemade foods. Children with food allergies run a higher risk of reacting to a food brought in from outside, due to the chef's ignorance of every child's condition in a classroom of 30. There are religious issues, where the child's religion(and at this age, the religion is chosen by the parents) does not allow celebrations of that kind. And if you remember being a kid, anyone that was "different" became the target for punishment/ridicule from other children. So, before saying "it's all about the fat kids!" maybe the schools are trying to take other aspects into consideration before allowing outside food in, while claiming it's all about nutrition.
THER GOING TO FAR. YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO CONTROL YOURSELF AT ANY AGE.
This is just sad as it punishes the kids who are active and have self control. My thin, athletic, active daughter has come home hungry after a day of school and sports because HER SCHOOL has decided that at lunch time the kids can only have seconds of certain foods (no meat, no bread,) to try and help with the obesity issue. Meantime, her tank runs low so some other, overweight classmate doesn't have to exercise self control - its done for them. When we were small, a treat was just that - a treat. Not a meal staple. Thats what my kids are taught. In the end, I want my kids to be able to have their cupcake and eat it too.
My kids love to take cupcakes to school - and our school has requested that we bring the smaller ones and not the huge cupcakes. Neither one of my girls are obese because of a cupcake every now and then. I've done things like I should, my kids know that one is OK, but we only need one cupcake or brownie or what ever. We don't deprive our kids of a treat, we've taught them to enjoy the treat, but not to go overboard with it. I agree with most everyone else, let the kids have a treat and put recess back in the school. My kids are hyper and need to RUN - but I don't see the schools sugesting that kids get more physical activity - nope they'll give a kid Ridalin in a heart beat but by golly we better not let them have a cupcake.
My daughter asked if she could bring "strawberry" cupcakes for her birthday. I said sure as I had seen other parents bring them on occassion although it was discouraged by the school district. Well, as I set out to buy the mix and tins, she told me they had to be store bought ONLY. I called the school and homemade cupcakes were not allowed as someone might put "something" in them or someone could be allergic. Excuses! I say let kids be kids and let the parents make sure that their children get outside to ride their bikes or play tag!
A lack of cupcakes doesn't 'punish' anyone. When I was in school, birthdays were celebrated outside of school with family and/or friends. Why is it necessary to do this in school? Is the only way to celebrate a birtday by eating unhealthy food in lieu of studying?
Okay, just removing cupcakes ain't gonna do it. Most children are eating extremely unhealthy diets because Americans are on the "lazy and it tastes good" diet. As in, chocolate sugar coated cereal for breakfast, burgers and fries for lunch, and pizza with junk for dinner. The government has tried to make the Food Pyramid easy for people to understand but it is largely ignored. Unfortunately in our society, fast and easy is what people want, and they're also mislead by packaging. Just because something is low in cholesterol doesn't mean it's not stuffed full of partially hydrogenated oils! On top of that, many children (and adults) are no longer active and sit in front of their computers and televisions all day.
I don't know if you've heard about this site, but its called FitSugar.com and they are always talking about the childhood obesity issues. I think you might enjoy it a lot. Thanks for all your great tips and blogs dr.gupta -- I really enjoy them!
I tried taking cupcakes for my sons birthday and the school has banned anything homemade. It must be store bought. Who's to say the store can't
have something in their cupcakes or whatever else .
I totally disagree with banning cupcakes & what is considered unhealthy food from schools.

My daughters high school has changed their lunch menu & have taken out all sweets & what they consider non-healthy foods. She also says the only thing to drink is milk or water.

I feel healthy eating & obesity start at home. I do not see how regulating one meal a day is going to stop them from gaining weight or becoming obese. Do the schools not realize that if the students do not like what is being served & eat less there that they will just go home & eat that much more to make up for the missed or inadequate meal they had midday?

It amazes me that they worry so much about obesity yet only require 2 out of 4 years of physical ED. Exercise is an important part of staying healthy & something that many kids lack today. With computers & video games many kids do not get the exercise they need. I think this is the area the schools should work on more then that one meal a day.

The kids can go home & eat whatever they want but few go home & are made to exercise or burn those calories off.

It is unfair to regulate & continue taking away food from healthy children that are not obese - good eating habits must start at home - but exercise can benefit the kids no matter where they are.
My daughter has been bringing lunch to school because the school lunch program is so outdated that it offers chicken nuggets as a protein! Canned fruit in syrup as a fruit! Chocolate 2% milk instead of skim! White bread instead of whole wheat!
I'm not worried about cupcakes, I'm worried about the refined, processed foods and empty calories being served to these children everyday, and the fact that school offers gym only 2 days per week. Obesity is much more well fought with changes in these areas where schools are falling short.
Let's look at this scientifically. As kids, we had cupcakes, bake sales, yodels, twinkies and other poor nutrional food in school. There was not an obesity problem. I agree there is an obesity issue with kids today. So we want to ban the occasional cupcake in the school when they did not cause a problem before? I think we are looking in the wrong place for a solution.
HOW CAN WE EXPECT TEACHERS TO BE SUCESSFUL IN TEACHING OUR KIDS TO EAT HEALTHY WHEN THE TEACHERS THEMSELVES ARE OVER WEIGHT.
Yes, it is parent's rights to bring in for their children what they want (as the father in the piece says) but when you are giving the food to all the other children in the classroom then he should abide by the school's healthy rules.
Texas' Jim Dunnam misses a key point- that his daughter for whom he has named a bill and all of her classmates exist in a community in their school.

This community moves as a group- a class. They participate daily in group activities. If you have 25 students in a class, the odds are that at least twice a month, you will have a birthday celebration. His remark that " once a year will not make a child obese" may well be accurate but the truth that he would never admit is that children learn what they live.

Kids who are encouraged to eat things like cupcakes a few times a month in school in a large group have that kind of eating heavily reinforced by group dynamics. They are more likely, it seems to me, to eat more sweets in and out of school than kids who learn both at home AND at school to eat with care. Once a year? Twice a school year? Absolutely- unless a child has specific medical concerns with diabetes or food allergies it is silly to say they could become obese over sweets ingested twice a year. Sadly, the pattern of junk food as an approved group activity is the issue, not intrustion into the rights of a parent to do something nice for their daughter.

It is also insulting to that mom at the head of the story who made the effort to bring in a treat for her child's class- that tray of yogurt with crunchy granola on top.

Rep. Dunnham does his child a disservice by taking a stand for the wrong reasons and by using his law-making position to reinforce unhealthy dietary habits.

Peter
Monroe, New York
I teach at an elementary school where treats have been banned for years. The thinking is that we have many children with serious food allergies and we try to be sensitive to them and to keep the environment safe for all the students. Also, local board of health officials stressed we cannot control the conditions under which food is prepared and stored outside the school, so they recommended we institute the ban. The kids have been doing just fine with it and have found many alternative ways to celebrate their birthdays. We can't always conflate food with happiness and the sending in cupcakes with parental involvement in education, as the gentleman in your report implied.
We have adopted this policy in our school system, and after getting over the shock, I have to say that I am completely supportive of the ban. I am a teacher and I have not seen any negative effects from the lack of cupcakes and cookies. Children are so overindulged as it is. When I was growing up, cupcakes and cookies were not brought to school. I really don't know how that trend even started. But for those who believe that the children are missing out on something, believe me they are not. Before we adopted the ban, school party celebrations began to spiral out of control. Parents started bringing goodie bags, drinks, snacks, etc. Think about the number of times this could occur in a classroom every year. It is disruptive and completely unnecessary. Let's get back to having parties at home where they belong.
I'm not a parent but I have heard that in many school systems, Physical Education (Gym class) has suffered due to budget cuts. I think that's where your main problem is. These kids are being slaved to computers far too much and (beacuse we fear all kiddies will be left behind due to our own fears of computer inadequecy) we are allowing Gym classes to be done away with. Whatever happened to the following philosophy: "HEALTHY MIND HEALTHY BODY"? That means children need to exercise as much, if not more, than they need to be slaved to computers.
When was the last time, adults making the �no cupcake rule� walked through a school cafeteria? Many schools now boats that nothing served will have over 8 grams of fat, but nothing prohibits students from buying their slice of pizza (processed white flour for crust, with pepperoni- since when is that healthy?) chips, cookies and nothing of valuable nutrition i.e. fruits and vegetable, whole grains. Why do we worry about a cupcake??? Wouldn't it be smarter to go after the real problem at school? Cafeterias do a wonderful service of providing meals, but that food is full of sugar, salt and empty calories and highly processed. Why don�t we keep party food at the party and make breakfast and lunch truly nutritious meals?
I think the big culprit of obeseity is
the addition of HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP to so many products in this country. It is added to sodas, jellies,
cookies. crackers and cupcakes.
Everyone should read the ingredient labels, and refuse to buy anything with
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP>
I have several things to say on this subject. Several years ago our school system stopped allowing vending machines selling certain nonhealthy items or soft drinks during the lunch hour. I think this is reasonable. However, for years they have been feeding them french fries, chicken nuggets, frito pie, and pizza for lunch. Then they say the children can't have any sweets during the only two official parties they can have per year which is Christmas and Valentine's. I have been saying they need to start by correcting the junk food they sell at lunch. This is where the real problem lies, not in two parties per year. An example of rules being carried too far is when our schools first started disallowing sweets and sodas in the vending machines, my son brougt his lunch as he always does and was told he couldn't drink his soda because of the new rules. As you can imagine, I immediately contacted the school and got this straightened out.
The banning of cupcakes is a necessary step to save the health of our children. Parents aren't controlling the amount of toxic junk our kids are consuming on a weekly basis. As for the dad who is trying to fight the ban in his school, well dad, it's not just one cupcake on her birthday. There are anywhere from 20-30 kids in a classroom, all bringing in cupcakes for their birthday as well. Then take the valentine party, and other holiday parties, and there is a contant stream of junk flowing right to the mouths of our children.
Perhaps this is the wrong forum for this comment, but I'm hoping it will be forwarded appropriately.
I have a sister that teaches elementary PE in a public school in OKC. After the news reported on the increase in childhood obesity over the past two years, I thought it was important to note that for the past several years, more and more elementary schools have eliminated their PE programs. A 15 year PE teacher, my sister now has to drive 2 1/2 hours every week to and from work as there are no elementary schools in her area that offer a Pysical Education program. When I told her about this latest report of increased obesity, she was confident it was true. She then told me something appalling. Her school served waffles and peas for lunch that very day! It seems there are far more important issues out there than worrying about weather kids can have a cupcake with their friends on their birthdays. A bit of common sense could solve all of this. Our politicians, lawmakers, state and government regulators and inspectors desparately need to keep their eyes on the ball. A home run is needed when it comes to our children. They are and forever will be our futures. If we don't make sure they are nutritionally healthy and physically fit, we will not have the minds needed to take us into our futures. We must count on having smarter people than us to combat the next health issues that will become priority.
The issue should be what is in the cup cakes! You could have healthy cup cakes instead of all the junk that is added to most of the food we buy today. Read the list of items in a cake mix - 30 items or more when it only takes 5 or 6 natural items to make a good healthy cup cake. When a food item has a one year shelf life leave it on the shelf in the store!!!
It is not just obese children who are adversely affected by junk food in the classroom. My children were all very thin--never made it to the bottom of the growth curve in all their growing up years. When they ate empty calorie foods at school, it was not just non-nutritious, it was anti-nutrition. Their appetite was shot for the evening meal. Dunnan's comment that "one cupcake a year" won't make a difference was perplexing. Each child in that class has a birthday. Add to that whatever would be allowed for holiday celebrations and that adds up! The cake the birthday child gets during their family celebration at home is "one" and that, I agree, won't hurt.

One of my kids had a teacher in Grade 5 who allowed no junk food in her classroom. On her desk was a big bowl of apples for anyone who had the munchies. I loved that woman! That same year, my other child had a teacher who stocked up on Snickers (the full sized ones, not the bite sized ones) at Sam's club and used these as a reward for good behavior. What was she thinking?!!
I think it is a bad idea to ban cupcakes, etc. for school birthday parties or special occasions. I think that making any food totally off limits for anyone, especially children who are very impressionable, sets one up for failure, as far as weight control, making you crave that forbidden food even more. I have a case in point. When my niece was born, her mother ( a registered dietician with anorexia, of which she was in denial) would not allow her to have sweets of any kind, and as she got a little older, she taught her to avoid any food with fat, including healthy milk, cheese, and beef. Consequently, she craved sweets, and when visiting Grandma, she asked to go to the store to buy "sweets", and that's what she got. Growing up it was obvious that she was developing an eating disorder, and now at the age of 22, she has admittedly suffered from anorexia since age 7, and now bulimia so severely, that in her senior year, she could not attend college for one semester because of health and emotional problems. She has severe osteoporosis, high cholesterol, debilitating joint diseases, and thinking and concentration disorders. This case of my dear niece may be the extreme, however I feel there is the potential for these types of problems, when you make such severe restricitons. I feel that it is healthier to eat whatever you want,eating mostly the "good" foods, and limit the "bad" foods,and to stay active by doing some form of exercise on most days. This should lead to a healthier lifestyle, since very few people can ever remain on a restrictive diet. D of South Carolina
Regarding the TX father/congressman who pushed a bill to allow parents to send anything to school to celebrate a child's birthday: considering the epidemic of childhod obesity and diabetes, and this nation's attachment of food to socializing, perhaps it would behoove us all to redirect our social activities to something other than food. We're stuck in thinking that special events must include food and drink. Instead of celebrating with food, why not celebrate with fun activities? We learn early on, from our parents and society, that food is a reward and a means of celebrating. That's an idea that has lifelong repercussions.
I think that this public school has an obligation to be more than exceptionally open minded and understanding of different cultural norms and diversity in order to provide public education to the children who attend these types of schools. This country is a melting pot and they have absolutely no right to say how parents should feed their children. Weather obesity is actually unhealthy (with a few exceptions of course) in children of the ages in this news story is un-verified and completely un-proven to be a health risk for children.
Its not even proven that 1 obese child has kept the weight they have when they under the age of 20, after they begin to grow up and thier metabolism begins to slow down. In fact most of the children I have ever seen that were a little and even substantially overweight by anyone�s standards have all turned out to be extraordinary athletes and not as sickly as the other kids who were skinny in school. They also have a greater sense of how to treat other children who may not fit the �norm� with respect regardless of their skin color, sex, weight, or intelligence and are sensitive to other peoples feelings beyond a level I have seen of most teachers in their school. I think you can see what I�m talking about with this school you have reported on. These teachers and faculty need to enroll in their own school�s history class during the time of year when the class is studying the rise of Nazi Germany and their obsession with genetic perfection and how it led to the holocaust.

Furthermore, a small point of parliamentary procedure: -Have you ever known someone who was perfect in all the ways your not? Well this is because through life society, television, and now even many activist physicians who want to help people but may not have the science of obesity and its causes completely correct. Society tells us that thin is better than heavy, especially women -but the truth is if we were Inuit Alaskan natives, a woman who is thin and skinny would have a hard time even getting a valentines card or be able to avoid the whole female community from constantly sending her and her family the most blubber filled prepared meals as often as possible until the poor sickly young lady started to put on some serious weight. This is because the Inuit people for a very good reason view skinny women and men to be unhealthy and in fact the opposite sex would find a skinny person quite ugly. They view thinness as a sign that that person will not live throughout the winter and this is for a very good reason. Evolution has taught them over the last 2-3 million years that skinny people tend to turn into popsicles a lot easier than a person with about 20% fat tissue. Fat is used to insulate the human body and genetics has created this function of the body to protect the organs and body parts from severe cold.
Logic and natural selection would raise the question of how can a skinny woman in their community possibly give a man good healthy children who will also survive the Alaskan winters. These people have been living in the Northern regions of the world with-out any modern medicine to tell them they are too fat and with absolutely no adverse health reasons due to obesity for tens of thousands of years if not longer and western doctors come along and in the last 200 years and try and dispute 5,000,000 years of human evolution?
Lets see how many of these western doctors know for a fact that obesity is the sole cause of heart disease later in life for these children. People in this country need to let go of their complete trust in western medicine. It�s terribly young when you speak in terms of human world history. In fact I know a few Chinese doctors that can treat severe depression with acupuncture 99% more effectively than any of the medications I have ever received over the years, and with no side effects and only recently has western medicine acknowledged that many if not 90% or Chinese medicine has far more healing qualities that have recently been tested and proven scientifically but that adopting those practices could cost them their practice. Some doctors in California practice eastern medicine on a regular basis with in many cases fewer side effects that don�t simply treat the problem but cure the problem instead.
Leave these kids alone, they are young and will burn off that weight in 1 month when their bodies decide its time to do so. Remember school teachers and district school boards, their metabolism runs at about 60% higher than your has since you were 20. There is no need to take out your personal anger with that on these �slightly overweight� children. You cant have a Fatness intervention.
Why give the kids unnecessary sugar and calories!. To most kids cupcake means just the frosting not the actual cake but we as parents should be in control of what we feed our kids- why give them food with empty calories?

But banninig cupcakes is a severe measure!How about just plain old cupcakes with no frosting!.

For my Son's B'day I took the ones straight from the oven to the class room (4 year old). Added one m&m on the top to give a splash of color and festiveness.
A cupcake on special occasions is not making our children fat at school. A lack of recess in schools & their lunch menus are more at fault. The menus contain too much fat & lack of recess means no exercise during the day. Most children do not even walk to & from school.
I think cupcakes should be banned. The reason is not as a way to prevent obesity in children. They should be banned because more than likely they are made on the same lines as products that contain peanuts and these types of products should be banned from schools. Products with peanuts (like most cupcakes) are poison to children with peanut allergies and they have a right to have a safe classroom environment. However if the schools goal is to create healthier kids, bring PE and Health classes back, don't ban unhealthy foods.
As an elementary school teacher, I oppose "cupcake" at school. Not only is it excessively unhealthy, it takes up valuable instructional time. This cannot be overstated! I strongly believe that one reason so many schools have poor achievement scores is because instructional time has been invaded by unnecessary activities.
what happened to mom and dad raising kids it seems to me like everyone and their momma thinks they know better NO ONE knows better than that kids parents what happened to manners give advice only when asked any one remember that one if the mom wants to bake em then let her take em
Dr. Gupta,
I remember looking at a research study a couple of years ago that concluded that sugar consumption is not correlated to kids' hyper behavior. It seems to me that the research community should be consulted before cupcake consumption is legislated! Plus, food technology has now given us Splenda so we can have our cupcake and eat it too!
The old double standard - kids aren't allowed to have birthday treats, but take a look in the background at teacher - I'll bet she has a box of doughnuts in the teachers lounge! She's no role model for fitness & weight control. Controlling treats in the classroom is nothing if the home & general diet & activity level are not addressed. Most teachers I've seen are among the least physically fit people. Iam sure after the day they put in, a workout is the last thing they have energy for, but why are school systems requiring something for students that faculty are not willing to do for themselves?
When our schools and our school systems improve the quality, taste and nutritional value of the breakfast and lunch programs, remove ALL of the vending machines and fast food catering (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, etc.), and make an honest effort to feed our kids better and put healthy snacks in vending machines, THEN they can talk about a mom or dad bringing in treats. But oh, wait a minute, that wouldn't be an issue at all if schools were actually doing what I just said.... go figure.
Hello,

I find it very sad that things have to come this far. It is NOT the cupcakes that make the children obese, it mostly happens at home. At home they need to change what is inside their cabinets. Parents nowadays feel bad and guilty about sooo many things for their children, that they will buy and give the children whatever they want, instead of what they need. We are the children's teachers, and our example starts at home first.
I think it is iresponsable to think of this subject as a health issue without taking into consideration allergic reactions.
My child has severe food allergies,and its not just sweets,its healthy foods too.
If it could save just 1 child from "severe alergic reactions", or even death,it is a no brainer to ban such items from school.
i think kids can eat all the cupcakes they want AT HOME wher it is safe.
I teach in a wonderful, but very low income elementary school. The school's policy: No HOME baked goods can be brought in for a student's birthday. The goodies can't be loose. They must be in the store's sealed package. My concern is with the school lunch. Everything on the tray looks SO OVER PROCESSED!! And: Our students do not get milk cartons. They must 'punch' their bags of milk in with the straw.
I think we should abide by the wishes of the schools. It isn't just one cupcake the school is worried about - that must be multiplied by the number of students in the class. The school is not only faced with the question of too many sweets, but also the ingredients. Schools are being held accountable for allergic reactions (e.g., peanuts) for food brought in to students. Do the school and your child a favor - have a party at home if you wish to provide sweets.
Keeping Obese Children from consuming too many calories should not lie so much in the hands of public schools. Although 25% of our nations children are obese with many more over-weight, a good deal remain quite skinny. And with the edition of the recent cafeteria bans on anything fattenning, some of them are too skinny. As a 19 year old male, I myself have never weighed over 135 pounds. Havn't been able to gain weight in 5 years. I blame a good deal of that on the fact that in my high school whole milk was stripped from the shelves, marinara sauce was wattered down, cheese was all but eliminated, and buying a "double lunch" became against the rules. This makes me feel mistreated, overlooked, and unthought of due to other peoples problems.
I must admit that I am of two minds about this issue. Both sides have valid points. I feel that if a child is given a good foundation when it comes to eating healthy, fed balanced healthy foods at home, and shown how to make good choices (which is something that many of us don't do) then he/she will not be harmed with the occasional Happy Meal or cupcake. I did; however, try to institute a healthy snack only policy w/ my Girl Scout Troop. After working on the Looking Your Best badge; I felt that it was hypocritical to teach them how to take care of them selves and not put it into practice in our meetings. It didn't do any good; the parents still bring junk. Ultimately the responsibility lies w/ the parents. It is they who are killing their children by not encouraging exercise and healthy eating habbits.
I have been a teacher for the past 11 years. One thing I have learned throughout my years in this profession is how little most people actually know about the job of teaching children or running a public school. Of course anyone that has a child feels that they are an expert on how schools should be run. I have a checking account. Does that make me an expert on running a bank? I drive an automobile. Should I open a repair and collision shop? Listen to someone inside a profession if you want an educated answer. Why is it the school's responsibility to hold a child's birthday celebration in the first place. Could it be because the parent is trying to cover up the lack of attention that child receives in other "home" situations. Does this public display of celebration make an otherwise absent parent feel better? Do they as adults need to show the other children how loved their child is? (..and how unloved those who don't get the same treatment are.) Many parents are oblivious to the fact that some religions do not agree with these celebrations. I suppose most parents are not at all concerned about the hygiene of "every" student's home kitchen or the effect of food allergies on children eager to participate in the celebration. The school can handle all of these problems. If mistakes are made, then of course, the school, or teachers, should be appropriately sued for thier negligance. Has everyone from Sen. Dunnam to ordinary moms and dads forgotten that they could also invite their child's friends over for a celebration of cupcakes? Oh...this would mean it would be their resposibilty. Herein lies the true nature of this controversy.
You've got to have some fun in school! That's like saying we're going to cut our reading and just do math all the time. We'll run off thoses calories at recess!
I sorry. I would have to disagree with the ban of cupcakes in Schools. Our school systems are in the business of educating our children. Passing laws and forcing everyone to choke down the bland health food is wrong. Your article indicated that we are reaching 20 percent of the children are obese. What percent of the population are health food activist. Is this a few people that think there thinking is the best for everyone.

The beauty of the United States and what the U.S. stands for is our ability to express our opinion. One thing that we need to remember is this county was built on the majority.
In my opion our schools need to educate the children on eating habits. Educate the kids on nutrition. Has lawmaker asked an experts option? You can purchase a cupcake in a hospital where there is a paid food planner. I�m no expert; I�m not overly over weight nor is any of my 4 kids and wife. We have eating habits in the home. This was taught to my wife and I when we were kids. It is our job and responsibility as parents to teach our children. Pass a law that the Parents are responsible for their minor child�s action and what comes out of his or her mouth. This might bring back respect for a teacher and allow the teacher to do their job.
I saw a show by a Doctor on a major network about an obese child. This doctor educated this child on eating habits and the child looked great and had a better out look compared to the beginning of the show.

My wife has a daycare; some of these parents are organic diet only parents. I for one have been taught, from a 2 year old, about what is healthy and I'm 42 years old. Our Schools have steered away from the 1960's presidents health program, exercise in PE, and a daily time frame of exercise.
The world has changed from when I was in school. Today there are TV games and Computers that our kids have to deal with. This is a billion dollars industry. Are we going to stop this also? I know for a fact the computer takes up a majority of my life, my job is driven from a computer. Are we going to ban the technology of the future? This would set the United States back in the global techno world.

We have required PE and sex education in the schools why not nutrition classes at an early age.
Why not use a bit logic?

While it may be true that exercise might use up the extra calories a child puts on by eating junk food, it is also true that if there is no time for exercise during school hours, then there should be no extra junk food allowed either.

Since a parent can stuff his or her kid with all the cupcakes they want while at home, why can't they at least cooperate with the school's policies during school hours? Obviously the parents of the "cupcake kids" are addicted to junk food themselves so are unable to restrict the sugar intake of their own offspring, but that does not entitle them to undermine the school's authority.

Not much has been said about how sugar dulls the mind making one sleepy (only minutes after the original sugar rush has diminished) and if repeated too often might leave a kid both stupid as well as fatter. Problem; those with sugar dulled minds are not well equipped to think logically.
Dear Dr. Sanjay and the CNN audience, I can�t believe no one has mentioned the real problem with cupcakes in school! It is not weight. Sugar and refined carbohydrates, present in the cupcake, and trans and/or saturated fats present in the frosting are the NUMBER ONE and TWO contributor to degenerative disease!!! In the United States, degenerative disease, including stroke, heart disease and diabetes is responsible for 1 in 3 deaths. Sugar consumption can also inhibit immune function thereby promoting the spread of common ailments such as colds and flues. Sugar may give (kids in school) a quick hyper-active high followed by a hypo-glycemic low. Hypo-glycemia is a state of low blood sugar. A state in which our higher brain centers, involved with critical decision making, and social behavioral choices are mediated. Hypo-glycemia puts our bodies into a state of flight or fight. A state in which rational perceptive behavior is distorted to include an increase in behaviors such as crying, violence, and mood swings to mention a few.
To get back to the innocent little cupcake, if there are 25 kids (birthdays) in the class and then valentines, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas parties, now we have refined sugars and carbohydrates on a regular basis. We are teaching our children to celebrate with consumption of foods that are known to cause distorted behaviors and degenerative disease. Why do we insist our children to suffer these consequences when we know better? If you think I am just being obsessive, read the research! If you don�t believe it is an issue, try giving up sugar, it has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine.
I am a teacher in Ohio. I also have a three year old child. Children enjoy celebrating their birthdays with friends. They should be allowed to celebrate in what ever manner the parents feel is okay. I am in favor of better school lunches and vending machines with healthy foods, however the food is not making our children fat!! The computer, video games, lack of parks in neighborhoods, and two working parents. Kids are not kids anymore. We had to walk to school and most districts offer door to door bus service instead of making kids walk to the end of the road. Kids do not ride their bikes or roller skate anymore. They lead the busy lives of their parents and fast food and eating out are part of the busy lives. Parents are the ones ultimately responsible for their children. Parents are the role model and if they are not playing and eating healthy neither are their children.
Dr. Gupta:
When I was born, my mother had TB and was very sick until I was ten. My Father worked long hours to pay bills and I was raised by a maid and not allowed to see my mother even though she was in the next room. They kept no extra food around the house and made me eat school food because it was a hot lunch. I traded my lunch with my friends sandwiches - like pbj or baloney. By 2nd grade i was very overweight and teased everyday by the boys in my class. I cried every day on my walk home from school. It was devastating. By 6th grade, i had thinned out but still thought i was fat because i was 5'6" and 125 - i weighed the most of every girl in my class but no one told me that was okay so i still thought i was fat. By 47 i was anorexic and am now 63 and fighting the anorexia again. i still think i am fat. Let this be a cautionary tale to you and all school officials who want to make a big deal about a child's weight. You have no idea what's going on at home, and that is cruel to any child. For obvious reasons, i will not leave my name.
I do think it's a little extreme. But it would probably be better to limit the celebrations to maybe once a quarter or once a month. And instead of cupcakes, maybe have sugar free popsicles, or those freeze pops. Someone mentioned that parents should have the option to allow children to celebrate however they please, and I agree, but schools shouldn't be force to accomodate. People seem to think they own the schools and are able to do as they wish. I think maybe limiting the celebrations or changing the foods would be a great solution to this "problem" that has seemed to arrise.
My comment is in the 1900,s heart disease was not even in the top ten from whatt people die of , and people ate foods like steak over charcoals,cured everthing with salt , ate and cooked everthing with lard, butter . used eggs like crazy, made pies,cakes, donuts etc. drank whole pure milk , smoked and chewed tabacco and drank alot ? So doc what is wrong today can you answer that question ? Doc is it all the bad air we take in or is it the pills we see on tv everyday or is it the steroids they inject in the meats we eat ? doc i never seem to get that answer from my doc can you answer that ? joe mariano
Second question is about cholestrol drugs are they really safe first question is if the drugs affect your muscles in your legs,arms hip and damage your liver then my question to you is is your heart a muscle ? And if you say yes then why don,t it affect your heart muscle ?
Hello,
I agree that banning cupcakes is going too far! Rep Jim Dunnam has a good point about child obesity being caused by lack of activity and overall diet. Growing up my mother fed us hearty but healthy meals and made us go play outside every chance she had. My mother taught us to eat healthy and be healthy but definitely turning down birthday cake at a party was simply not heard of. Obesity can be solved, simply by raising your kids on a healthy diet and also, helping them get some physical exercise atleast 3-4 times a week. Even if it you have to chase them around the yard yourself. Hey, you never know, you might need a little as well.
Yes, banning cupcakes is going too far!
Food will always be synonymous with celebration in our culture and while its great that there is much more attention paid to nutritious foods, low calorie, options, etc....children should be able to celebrate, and if that means cupcake to that child, so be it. Children need to be taught to make choices. One cannot make choices without options being offered. Moderation and Excercise are the key to good health and weight control and that doesn't come as easily as banning cupcakes. It requires overall communication and committment within the family.
I can't believe the morons who are defending the consumption of cupcakes and other junk food. *I* control what my children eat, and they are not allowed to eat anything that isn't organically-grown. No pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other agrochemicals are allowed in their diet. No artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives are allowed to enter their little bodies either. If some idiot who lets their child eat refined sugar and artificial crap brings cupcakes to school, and I am not physically there every minute to police it, there is a chance that some unhealthy chemical will be eaten by my children. Schools, teams, clubs -- anywhere that children are supervised by adults other than their own parents -- should be legally and morally obliged to honour the dietary choices of the children's parents.
let the kid eat whatever he or she wants. When they can't breathe from getting up from a chair, they will learn their lesson. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
The obesity epidemic is out of control and certain measures need to be taken to reduce not only childhood obesity, but poor eating habits and lack of physical activity for all Americans. The cupcake debate is a band-aid to a greater problem and while the idea of banning sweets in schools is not ludacris it will not, in itself, reduce childhood obesity. Children need to be educated on the importance of diet and exercise. Unfortunetly the fried and non-nutritious foods like pizza and french fries often found in school cafeterias is less costly, but the opportunity to eat more healthy foods should be an additional movement. Sweets should not be eliminated completely because children will still have them any way and may binge on them at that time-it's biological: even as newborns we innately prefer sweet foods! Sweets need to be portioned. That's the problem today: too many calories, eating past satiety-PORTIONS, PORTIONS, PORTIONS!
Cupcakes are not responsible for obesity. Poor nutrition is the reason for obesity. Poor nutrition can come from lack of money or from lack of knowledge on what is appropriate to eat on a daily diet. Birth Control pills being offered at such a young ages promotes the message that sex is ok and is just casual thing. Kids need guidance and values which comes from the households and religious communities. There should be no reason that schools should be involved in such matters. The school’s job is to inform students and educate them. A school’s job is not to take away children’s rights and their innocence at such a young age.
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