Children’s Nutrition and Social Responsibility

Last week I took my son to a well-known clinic for a check-up. This clinic is well-known for its legacy of high-quality care.

As we were walking out from the appointment, I couldn’t help but notice a vending machine for a popular brand of cookie-covered chocolate bar. The doctor proceeded to tell me that this machine sells out every day.

I was shocked, to say the least.

I was not shocked that it sold out daily. What baffled me was why a junk food vending machine was placed within a healthcare facility.

I get it. You want to be the “cool” clinic that kids love to visit, and you want to encourage them to come back.

Encouraging Healthy Kids’ Food Feels Uncool! We Must Change This!

It’s like that feeling moms get when we are the uncool ones bringing the fruit or veggie plate to the school party. No one wants to be “that mom” – except me and a few other women I know.

But the bigger not-so-cool thing is when children grow up on a diet primarily composed of ultra-processed foods, potentially leading to health complications and chronic conditions.

Junk Food and Children’s Sport

This issue isn’t limited to clinics but extends to health clubs and venues where children engage in sports.

Most of these places offer sugary sodas, sports drinks, and junk food while offering little to no healthy alternatives.

When I inquired about this choice of ultra-processed, sugary foods at one such place, I was told that healthy options like fresh fruits don’t sell as well. When I asked about social responsibility, they proceeded to tell me it is bad business – they make a higher profit margin on sugary snacks than on healthy alternatives.

The message was very clear. Until they can achieve a similar profit margin with nutritious food, there is no incentive for them to consider selling healthy options. It is bad business to them.

Messaging Around Children’s Nutrition and Junk Food

This issue transcends convenience; it sends a troubling message to children.

Instead of being exposed to the benefits of nutritious food, kids get the impression that it’s acceptable to regularly consume empty calories and unhealthy snacks. This can lead to a lifelong pattern of poor dietary habits and a host of health problems, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic conditions.

Research is increasingly showing that processed foods can even impact our mental health.

Can We At Least Change The Food On Offer in Places That Are Health-Focussed?

It should be clear that promoting and selling proven unhealthy foods in health-related environments does not contribute positively to anyone’s well-being. We all want the best for our children, so why are we okay with places of health and wellness showing our children that healthy eating isn’t important?