Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's for Breakfast: A fiesta of carbs

French toast, graham crackers, chocolate milk, apple juice.

By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

Yesterday, "Healthy Schools" legislation pending in the D.C. Council was approved in committee. The bill aspires to more standards and does set limits--minimum and maximum--on the number of calories kids can be served at school meals.

But one thing it doesn't do is regulate sugar, the "stealth ingredient" in school food. Food served as part of the federal school meals program is highly processed and cheap. One thing these meals have a lot of is sugar, because sugar is an easy way to boost calories without paying hardly anything for them.

And what kid doesn't like sugar?

But adults are supposed to be smarter than kids. And sugar can't be good for a city that has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country. A steady diet of too much sugar eventually leads to metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Why would adults routinely feed kids a diet that leads to diabetes?

The "French toast," which is cooked in a factory and arrives at school frozen, to be re-heated, is pure starch and turns to glucose--a form of sugar--once it is ingested. The graham crackers contain six grams of sugar, or about 1.5 teaspoons. The chocolate milk contains 26 grams of sugar--a bit more than six teaspoons and the same as Classic Coke.

The apple juice, while it sounds healthy, countains 20 grams of sugar in the form of fructose, or about five teaspoons. Fructose has been linked to a growing incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Whole fruit would be a much better alternative than concentrated juice.

Is this an appropriate breakfast for school children caught up in an obesity epidemic?

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