Lack of parenting skills, not Book It, to blame for child obesity

Editorial

Remember being in grade school and reading books in hopes of receiving a personal pan pizza hut pizza as a reward? How many books would students actually read if it weren’t for the promise of a four-piece beauty with extra cheese?

Well, one motivation for students to read is in jeopardy thanks to critics now speaking out. Pizza Hut’s Book It! program has found itself under fire as of late, being accused of using teachers as corporate advertisers and worsening childhood obesity.

“In the name of education, it promotes junk food consumption to a captive audience… and undermines parents by positioning family visits to Pizza Hut as an integral component of raising literate children,” said Susan Linn, a Harvard psychologist and co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

While, yes, childhood obesity is a serious problem that necessitates action, could a reading program such as Book It! be to blame?

Yes, Pizza Hut does push its product via the program. It’s easy to see when you consider that a fourth grade student is not going to drive himself to pick up his pizza. His parents are bringing him and will often buy something for the rest of the family. Those in favor of the program see families eating together at all as a positive thing. Families today rarely have time to share a meal together, so when they do it should be encouraged, no matter where they’re eating.

Critics, on the other hand, say that Book It! creates an atmosphere that pressures parents to feed their kids junk food. Everyone has a legitimate concern regarding this issue, but could we be missing the point completely?

When was the last time you heard of a child becoming obese from having a personal pizza every month? If the kid has an otherwise healthy diet, it’s not going to happen unless there’s some medical problem.

Americans love to play the victim and parents especially have a tendency to blame The Man for little Junior’s biting, dishonesty problem, swearing or obesity.

Sure, institutions influence us all tremendously, but our families should influence us more.

We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people and our youth will be somewhat tainted because of it. That’s just life. But if parents will take the time to play an active role in their kids’ lives, some of the damage could be minimized.

It’s true, Book It! encourages kids to eat high-calorie food in small quantities once a month. But don’t point your finger at Pizza Hut. At least the kids are reading. No, point the finger at the parents who don’t have the wisdom to teach the kids how to care for their bodies. If a child doesn’t have that foundation, then when they are presented with an opportunity like a pizza party, it won’t be a big deal because a body that’s treated well in general can handle the kind of abuse pizza is. Now go make your kid a salad.

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