I’ve noticed that we are getting into that time of year when the consumption of sweet foods hits an all-time high. Swedish supermarkets have been revelling in the fact that with each year that passes, Swedish children start the holiday season ever-earlier. Sadly, they’ve adopted the Halloween habit which is a part of the story of how American children got into so much trouble healthwise. From here on out, until the last wrappers are opened at Easter, it’s one big sugar rush all the way.
This isn’t the first time that I have written about that big enemy of the people: vast quantities of sugar. However, something happened during this past week that draws my attention back to sugar and children’s apparently increasing need for it. During one of my story-telling sessions at a school, the children began to draw a world full of sweets. It’s not the first time that I have seen this. In fact, I am ready to bet that eight times out of ten if you give Swedish kids (or any others living in a modern society) the opportunity to start drawing their favorite fantasy world, they will start with vast quantities of chocolate and sweets. As an adult I can delude myself that it is sort of fun and cute until I look at the statistics for children’s health. Kids are suffering. Rates of diabetes 2 are increasing steadily. Kids need adults who are aware to help them out of this dangerous jungle, which is becoming more lethal by the day.
As I stood waiting in the evening queue at the supermarket this week, I noticed bags of huge pink and yellow marshmallow twirls piled up as high as my waist. The cynical strategy behind their placement near the check-out is that tired parents will always choose to appease their children whom they haven’t seen all day by throwing them into the basket. Now we’re getting to the nub of this problem, I thought. Parents today feel that they need to appease their kids – to somehow make up to them in sugar what they haven’t quite managed in time and affection. “Of course – sugar is on a continuum with alcohol,” a very intelligent person I know said. Since this person I know is adored by children everywhere (he is a professional clown), I trust his judgement, and just a moment’s reflection will tell you that he is quite right. If you won’t give your child a bottle of schnapps, why would you give them a bag of sweets?
Last week Swedes were left gaping at a new program about how we spoil our children and thereby ruin them. Not having much time to watch television, I’ve caught snippets. I do hope they’ll be taking up the issue of sugar (probably not is my guess). Diabetes is a disease that damages the functioning of the heart, among other organs. Can it be more obvious that a little love in the form of an apple consumed together might not only save our children from a great deal of grief, but also fulfill the real source of their need?