Why Shouldn't I Eat Junk Food?
24/10/2013 Why Shouldn't I Eat Junk Food?
Here is a sample paragraph:
|This book from Usbourne books, tries to explain why junk food is not good for us, in a way which is accessible to children.
The book takes children through the following ideas:
- what junk food is
- whether junk food is all bad
- what is in junk food
- what to eat instead
- how food is made and marketed
- how to stay healthy
What age is it suitable for?
The book is written simply with a mixture of cartoon images and short sections of text. Some of the language is quite grown up so would not really be suitable for younger children as they wouldn't understand the terms well enough to follow. Younger primary aged children would be able to understand it if they read it with an adult and older primary children would be able to read it for themselves.
"All junk food is processed. This means it has been put together in a factory and the original ingredients have been changed in some way. But this doesn't mean that all processed food is junk - even a loaf of wholemeal bread has had to go through some processing.
It's the way that food is processed that can make it junk. Processing food at extremely high heat destroys nutrients, so there isn't much goodness left. And some of the additives put into food during processing can turn it into junk."
The book starts off by explaining what sort of foods qualify as junk foods, and that it is the highly processed nature of them and their high sugar, salt and fat levels which makes them 'junk'.
It then goes on to say that a little bit of junk food now and again is ok, it's just when we eat it more often that it becomes a problem. I like that it doesn't try to categorise into good and bad foods, rather focussing on it being an occasional choice, a treat or something you have because of convenience, not as everyday food. It explains the possible health problems you could have if you eat a high percentage of junk food.
The book goes on to explain how food can be processed and the additives that can be put in to food.
Then it goes on to tell you what you should eat instead, giving the plate of good health as an example, and with short explanations of each food group. It explains why we need to eat a variety of foods and explains what carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre are.
There is a short set of suggestions of how to aim for five a day - suggesting soups and smoothies as shortcuts.
There is then an interesting double page spread on how cheap chicken nuggets are made from very low quality cuts of chicken - including fat and skin, and all the other things they add to bulk them out.
There is a good comparison of a fast food burger meal with a home made one and a recipe for a homemade burger to try for yourself.
Next there is an explanation of why breakfast is important and what makes a healthy breakfast, and a discussion of school meals and packed lunches, with some sandwich and salad suggestions.
There is a section on reading food labels and what they mean and how to know if you're eating too much of something. It explains how guideline daily amounts work and gives you some examples of a few foods which contain high percentages of your GDA in fat salt and sugar (showing crisps, chocolate bars, cereal bars, fizzy soda and some ready meals), so you can see how homemade foods would be better for you.
There is then a two page spread on body image and how it's natural to think about what you look like but that you shouldn't worry about it, and explains that dieting can be dangerous if you don't do it with help from a qualified person and what eating disorders are.
Next is a section on how to make food healthier - giving some food swap ideas and snack suggestions.
The next section teaches children about the wider context - that junk food and lack of exercise are modern issues, and that obesity is causing health problems. It explains how companies use pester power and marketing with celebrities and cartoons to persuade children to want their foods. Then there is a section on wider food issues - a paragraph each on food miles, seasonal foods, fair trade, animal welfare and sustainable fishing, and a discussion of genetically modified foods and the organic movement.
Finally there is a section on being active and finding a sport you like to stay fit and well.
At the back there are recipes for guacamole, hummous and salsa, and a useful glossary of some food related terms.
This book gives a good overall summary of the issues involved in choosing a healthy way of eating for children. There is only a paragraph or so on each item so it is a general overview, which moves on quickly enough to not be boring, but some children may find there is too much breadth of information and not enough depth to stick in their heads for long.
The illustration are cute and well used to break up the text and bring context.
There is, in my opinion, a good introduction to the concept that food companies are out to sell product and that it is up to us to guard against that.
On the other hand there are some punches pulled in places - for example the food labels section says that companies and shops are trying to make information clearer, whereas in real life most food companies do so only under pressure from outside regulators. And in the section on additives, it says that most fortified foods are good for us, when actually quite a lot of fortified foods are fortified precisely to make a cheap nutritionally poor food seem more healthy.
The nutritional advice is necessarily uncomplicated, and knowledgeable adult readers may slightly grate at some of it, for example saturated fats are still presented as poor choices, if you don't read the advice carefully you could read a glass of fruit juice and jam on toast as a healthy breakfast, and there is a not unusual lack of protein in some of the lunch and snack ideas.
But overall the swaps suggested are an improvement and certainly a good start for children with little or no knowledge of food issues.
This is a good light introduction for primary aged children on many of the issues around food. Children who read all of it will be a bit more savvy about the fact that junk food is calculated, formulated and marketed to make money, not to be healthy, and they will have a basic overview of what a healthy diet looks like.
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