obesity

Sugar Rush

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has been giving people quite the scare for some time now. It is a belief that the introduction of this product into our diet was the reason for increasing obesity in America; that the simple elimination of the product in our diets would make us lose that extra weight the American public has gained. Like many other Americans I believed this myth that HFCS was worse for you than the other sugars out there: honey, cane sugar, and brown sugar. But like many Americans, I was wrong. I used to read every label that I thought may have HFCS in it, and if it did I would put it back down and refrain from consuming the “evil” substance.

Just this year I have learned that HFCS is not as harmful as I thought it was. However, like other sugars, high fructose corn syrup should only be ingested in small amounts. The main reasoning for manufacturers to use HFCS as opposed to other sugars is that it is cheaper .

When choosing what food to eat, it helps to know what you are actually eating. Some foods that you wouldn’t expect to have sugar in it do, and thus it is still important to be aware of what contents you are actually eating. The best ways to go about doing this are to eat foods that are in their most natural form. This includes organic produce and excludes packaged foods. If you are choosing a food or drink item that has a variety of ingredients it may be important to read the ingredients and nutrition facts as HFCS is becoming more prevalent in foods that were once exempt of sugar additives.

The foods that many kids, and adults, find to be the most delicious are usually those foods that contain high fructose corn syrup. Kids especially are drawn to the sugary drinks and foods that are becoming more prevalent in our grocery stores and fast-food restaurants. Persuading children to eat fresher and healthier foods may be difficult, but will prove to be more beneficial for their health now and in the future. It is important to remember that high fructose corn syrup is still a type of sugar and should only be consumed in moderation.

About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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“The Great Outdoors”

The great snow storm that hit the East Coast last week left all of us in DC wondering what to do without work, school, and many other things that were shut down due to the snow. As soon as the snow hit, I was outside. Throughout the week I was determined to get out of my apartment and enjoy the snow as much as I could. I was outside a lot, but I was not the only one! People filled the streets, walking to the huge snowball fight in the city, shoveling snow, and sledding wherever possible.

This was shocking to see, as most of the news shows urged people to stay inside. It was great to see a substantial amount of kids outside, and admittedly, a little shocking as well. I expected the kids to stay inside to watch their TVs, text on their cell phones, and play video games. However, kids filled the streets and the sledding hills.

It is important for children to get outdoors! Not only are they missing out on the beauty of the world, but perhaps it is part of the reason why there is an increase in childhood obesity.

The No Child Left Inside Act is a good start for children to get outside and learn about the environment during the school day, but it is not enough. It is important for parents to encourage their kids to go outside and play, and even better if they join them in the play! If you’re having difficulties thinking of things to do in your own backyard or neighborhood, here are a few activities I used to do when I was younger:

  • Plant a garden
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Play basketball
  • Roller-skate
  • Play in the sprinkler
  • Rake leaves
  • Walk the dog

So, the big question is what will happen when all the snow has melted away, and the power is back on, and the children are back in school and parents back at work? Will children and their parents still continue to play outside? We all made the best of the snow and had our fun, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there!

What outdoors activities do you and your children do for fun?

About the author: Nikki Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.