If you're nervous about the choices your kids are making about school lunches, sending them to the White House blog is probably a bad idea. In a video for Michelle Obama's Let's Move program that showed up on the site last week, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass called on Elmo to try to teach America's kids to make good decisions (and talk up the new school lunch law).
There's just one problem here. In the video up on the blog site, Kass told Elmo -- and America's kids -- they can load up on fruit any time they want:
"Does Mr. Sam know fruit is a food you can eat any time?" Elmo asks.
"Yes, fruit is an anytime food. You can eat it any time you want," Kass responds.
Sorry, Mr. Kass, but for a program that's all about fighting childhood obesity, you just handed out some really bad advice. Fruits are good for kids, but like any other food, they're healthy only when eaten as part of a balanced diet. Fruits are full of sugar. Loading up on fruits is tantamount to shoveling in a host of carbohydrates.
It's a good way to pack on the pounds; a bad way to stay healthy. Even the USDA's kid-centric "My Pyramid" recommends only 1 1/2 cups of fruit per day, advising kids to go easy on juice (which studies have found is being overused by parents and has heightened the childhood obesity problem in America). Eating them "any time" will make kids fatter, not healthier.
This is the problem with calling on a chef instead of a nutritionist to talk about nutrition. Kass is the Obama's personal chef, and he's Michelle Obama's food initiative coordinator and White House liaison to the USDA. He is reportedly deeply interested in food issues and helping keep America's kids healthy, traveling to schools to talk to kids about healthy eating.
He has the potential to make a major difference for America's kids, as does Mrs. Obama's program. But with the weight of the White House behind them (no pun intended), they also have the potential to majorly screw up our kids. Is it upsetting to hear such bad information from the White House?
Image via White House.gov