Donuts for break­fast

The Covington News - - Religion -

“At that time the dis­ci­ples came to Je­sus, say­ing, “Who then is great­est in the king­dom of heaven?” Then Je­sus called a lit­tle child to him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “As­suredly, I say to you, un­less you are con­verted and be­come as lit­tle chil­dren, you will by no means en­ter the king­dom of heaven. … Who­ever re­ceives one lit­tle child like this in My name re­ceives Me. Who­ever causes one of th­ese lit­tle ones who be­lieve in Me to sin, it would be bet­ter for him if a mill­stone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world be­cause of of­fenses! For of­fenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the of­fense comes!” (Matthew 18:1-7, NKJV).

Woe to Kel­logg’s. Thurs­day morn­ing, Oct. 2, the ca­ble news show “Fox and Friends” did a story on the high su­gar con­tent of chil­dren’s break­fast ce­re­als, say­ing that some of the brands mar­keted specif­i­cally to chil­dren are made up of over 50 per­cent su­gar. The Fox News story is based on a Con­sumer Re­port study that will be printed in the Nov. 2008 is­sue. In the study, Con­sumer Re­ports gave only “Good” or “Fair” nu­tri­tional rat­ing to 23 of the 27 best sell­ing chil­dren’s ce­re­als. Nine of the most pop­u­lar brands were over 40 per­cent su­gar, and two brands were over 50 per­cent su­gar — Kel­logg’s Honey Smacks and Post Golden Crisp. One bowl of ei­ther of th­ese ce­re­als has more su­gar in it than a chocolate frosted donut.

As Kel­logg’s must be aware of, this high con­sump­tion of su­gar is not good for our chil­dren. Nancy Ap­ple­ton, PhD, au­thor of Lick the Su­gar Habit, lists 146 neg­a­tive ef­fects of con­sum­ing a lot of su­gar. Here are just a six from her list: obe­sity, tooth de­cay, high blood pres­sure, hy­per­ac­tiv­ity, mood swings and dif­fi­culty in con­cen­trat­ing. Dr. Ap­ple­gate writes that “in ju­ve­nile re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion camps, when chil­dren were put on a low su­gar diet, there was a 44 per­cent drop in an­ti­so­cial be­hav­ior.”

Mar­lene Schwartz, of the Rudd Cen­ter for Food Pol­icy and Obe­sity at Yale Uni­ver­sity, asks this pointed ques­tion. “The ques­tion to the in­dus­try would be, why are you tak­ing your most poor prod­uct, nu­tri­tion­ally and mar­ket­ing it to chil­dren?”

It makes a per­son won­der, if to­bacco com­pa­nies can be held li­able for the ill­nesses that their prod­ucts con­trib­ute to, can ce­real com­pa­nies be held li­able for harm tha t some of their prod­ucts do? If a child a te Kel­logg’s Honey Smacks ev­ery day for a year, and this child de­vel­oped a num­ber of health is­sues, could Kel­logg’s be sued?

That is a ques­tion for the lawyers. But what the sit­u­a­tion does point out is the need for over­sight in a free mar­ket sys­tem. John McCain said re­cently that “the fun­da­men­tals of our econ­omy are strong.” I agree with McCain. We have a free marke t econ­omy, and fun­da­men­tally, this is the best eco­nomic sys­tem. Sim­ply look around the world, com­pare cap­i­tal­ist coun­tries with com­mu­nist coun­tries and the pic­ture is clear, take away the free, and there is no en­ter­prise. Cap­i­tal­ism leads to pros­per­ity. But at the same time, cap­i­tal­ism needs over­sight. Con­sumer Re­ports does a mar­velous job keep­ing watch on in­dus­try, but I won­der if the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing all that they should to in­sure safe and healthy food for chil­dren. Re­mem­ber that the framers of the US Con­sti­tu­tion had an un­der­ly­ing pes­simism about hu­man na­ture. They be­lieved in the fal­li­bil­ity of hu­mankind, that power cor­rupts, that peo­ple are weak, and so they de­vised a gov­ern­ment in three branches with the hopes the sep­a­rate branches might keep the evil ten­den­cies in check. (Whether the “checks and bal­ances” work as well as de­signed may be de­bat­able!) The FDA may want to be­lieve that food com­pa­nies are ac­tu­ally mak­ing prod­ucts that are good for peo­ple to eat, but they need to re­mem­ber the old maxim, “trust but ver­ify.”

Rev. John Don­ald­son is the pas­tor at New­born and Mans­field UMC’s, and may be reached at john.don­ald­son@

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