Killing the Beast

In a recent NYT article entitled “Snack Time Never Ends,” author Jennifer Steinhauer discusses the unhealthy proclivity that Americans have towards snacking.  In particular, she discusses the demands that American parents must face to constantly provide snacks for their children during and after extracurricular activities.  I remember playing soccer as a young girl and having parents rotate each Saturday morning who would bring the orange slices to eat during halftime.  Steinhauer discusses how orange slices and carrot sticks have been pushed aside for far more unhealthy snacks, such as Oreo cookies.  Moreover, she discusses how children are accustomed to eating snacks after every basketball practice, violin lesson, or chess match that they participate in. Why are Americans so obsessed with snack time?  In all honesty, the answer to this question seems extremely convoluted.  Snacking is definitely a vital aspect of American culture that many people have come to view as a habitual tidbit of their everyday lives. The age-old argument is that Americans eat too much and too frequently.  I agree with this and also think snacking is an American cultural norm that is steadily increasing over time: “Indeed, this nation consumed $68.1 billion in packaged snack foods in 2008, up from $60 billion in 2004, according to Packaged Facts, a consumer research group.”  This is a sordid fact, one in which I would not want to compare to other countries’ snack food consumption.  In fact, I am going to back away from that train of thought entirely because it seems likely that Americans take the cake on that one (literally).  So what are Americans to do?

Steinhauer concludes that parents should either bring snacks for their own children instead of the entire group or just stop providing snacks altogether.  Another obvious option is to cut back on snacking and when choosing to snack, make healthier decisions (i.e. opt for the carrot sticks instead of the Oreo cookies).  This is obviously easier said than done.  But any baby steps that millions of Americans take towards limiting their unhealthy snacking is a million baby steps in the right direction towards healthier eating and living.  In turn, eating healthier foods will hopefully diminish the aforementioned obscene packaged snack food statistic.

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