After school and evening are “crunch times” for most families. It’s the time when crucial decisions are made that affect kids’ fitness and weight. And that includes snacking.
To get an idea of what parents thought their kids were doing during this time, NPR conducted a poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. Youth Radio’s Chantell Williams talked about the findings with teens and their parents.
Deborah Richards from Oakland, Calif., thinks she has a handle on her son Donta’s eating habits.
“He’s fussy, but he eats healthy,” she says. “He eats healthier than me.”
But Donta doesn’t think so. “I know for a fact I don’t,” he says. “My breakfast, I can say on the daily, is a pack of Skittles. I make sure I get one every morning.”
“Skittles?!” gasps Richards. “I try to teach him better!”
Richards isn’t alone. According to the poll, 87 percent of parents report their children are eating healthfully. But do parents really know what their kids — especially older kids — are eating?
Not according to high school senior Felix Pieske, from Portland, Maine.
“Middle school might have been the last time that I really talked to my parents about like, ‘Oh, what did you eat today?’ ” he says.
“I still talk to my mom, Oya Autry. She thinks I have a good diet — lots of juices, water, fruits and salads, and not a lot of chips or fried foods. And that sounds about right. Although, to be honest, I don’t make it a point to keep track of what I eat.
“However, some people, like my friend, 18-year-old Jorisha Mayo, know that they indulge, and do so starting right after school ends.”
Mayo, from Concord, Calif., admits, “I do occasionally eat unhealthy. I eat a lot of sugary foods and snacks. I think I snack probably around the 3 to 4 [p.m.] zone. Then when it gets later, 11 or so, that’s when I snack on my cookies and ice cream, and crackers or chips and stuff.”
That’s pretty normal. According to the poll, nearly half of children snacked on sweets, and a quarter ate chips the day before.
Lydia Tinajero, an expert on pediatric weight management at Oakland Children’s Hospital, says some kids sneak their snacks…