Topline Trends Tuesday: Kids & Food


Sigh. Not only is it the first day of September, but I was cold when left the house this morning. Summer – such as it was – is pretty much over. I’m just not ready. But, try as I might to deny that I need to stock up on ingredients,  school lunches are just around the corner for Canadian families like mine. Plus, this year the food children eat for lunch and as after school snacks is being scrutinized and discussed like never before.

Recently two new marketing initiatives aimed at kids caught my attention. First the Kinder chocolate folks sent me a press release about their new line of mini-treats and info about using these bars as a reward for kids who behave well. To be honest, I worry about linking indulgent food to love and reward for anyone, especially kids. That said, the smaller bar sizes do help teach kids portion control.

Then, I got info about these new snacks from Summer Fresh Salads that are perfect for lunch boxes and entice younger kids to eat protein-rich hummus and to dip veggies by using cartoon images they love. Despite the fact these products have a lot of packaging, I feel a lot better about this attempt to sell kid food to parents than I do about the Kinder mini-bar bribe idea.

If you’re concerned about controlling your child’s weight you might be interested in this study of 9- to 15-year-olds that found that all kids, regardless of their weight, tended to eat more when they had the chance to snack with a friend. Due to shyness or some other unknown reason, they ate far less when they were snacking with a peer they did not know. Interestingly, the biggest calorie intakes were seen when an overweight child snacked with an overweight friend:

• Overweight friends consumed 738 calories, on average, when snacking together
• When an overweight child was paired with a normal-weight friend they consumed an average of 444 calories.
• Normal-weight kids consumed an average of about 500 calories when paired with a friend, regardless of the friend’s weight.

How do you feel about rewarding kids with snacks or buying them foods specifically marketed as “kid foods?”


14 Responses to Topline Trends Tuesday: Kids & Food

  1. I don’t have children but don’t like the idea of rewarding kids with junk food or snacks. Eat when you’re hungry. Reward children with your time and attention. When I was a kid my parents’ praise meant more than cookies. And I loved cookies.

  2. Generally I disagree with making any food special or to be used as a reward. Then I started potty training.

  3. cheryl says:

    Oh, you’ve touched on a big issue for me (no surprise there). One of the first articles I ever wrote for EatingWell was about SpongeBob on bags of spinach… (

  4. cheryl says:

    Sorry about that. Try this:

    It may take a minute or so for the pdf to load…

  5. Hella Stella says:

    Does anyone else wonder about the necessity for all that plastic packaging? That alone would keep me away, other issues aside. I can’t recycle those where I live, sadly.

    • danamccauley says:

      I’m not a huge fan of packaging either but it’s a common problem with grab and go foods, isn’t it?

      At my son’s school they have to bring home all the packaging they take with them in their lunch.

  6. Jen says:

    Good question. When we’re shopping my little guy always requests the Dora/Spiderman/Sponge Bob pasta, candy, etc. and I always say no, telling him it’s not healthy. He tends to let it go but will hit up his dad (a sucker) for the same thing and get it. That’s why dad is not allowed to shop anymore. 🙂
    I don’t make a big deal about meals. If he doesn’t eat what I make, he doesn’t eat. When he’s hungriest (after school and lunch), he’ll eat anything so I take the opportunity to feed him raw veggies, dried cranberries and yogurt.

  7. Sharon Haslam says:

    “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t reward themselves with something good (and lets face it treats are nice hence the name.)
    My philosophy as a mom of 4 is “everything in moderation.” The good nutritious stuff and the delicious not so good stuff. I try not to make a big deal out of what they do eat and what they don’t eat. I’ve struggled with a weight issue my whole life cause my parents were “you’re not excused till you clean your plate”. It was all good nutritious food but the stress of having to eat it is still in my head. Like I said I try not to make everything an issue and I promote healthy food –my 15 year old son thinks a treat is package of organic walnut halves–it’s all in how you present it. If they sold rice cakes with Brad Pitt’s face on them I’d probably buy them??

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