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Healthy eating changes at Shady Shack

posted Apr 19, 2012, 9:18 AM by Marylene, MICHELET

Dear Parents/Guardians:

As our beloved Shady Shack begins to incorporate healthier food guidelines, I wanted to address the reasoning behind some of the decisions made, and perhaps use this as an opportunity to provide information to allow for healthier food choices to be made outside of school as well. 

For those who are unaware, Shady Shack will no longer be selling candy, soda or Tampico juices during the school week and will eliminate french fries from the menu except for “French Fries Fridays.”  These items will be replaced by healthier drink/food options including 100% fruit juices with the hope to expand the number of healthy food choices starting this upcoming school year.  Just as students need to be taught math and grammar, they also need to be taught how to eat healthy.  These healthy (or unhealthy) eating skills that they develop now as children will be used throughout their lives and can have lasting, serious health consequences.

A staggering 72% of men and 64% of women are overweight or obese in America due to an overconsumption of some of the exact foods and beverages we are eliminating from Shady’s menu.  In the last 35 years, the number of obese adolescents 12-19 years has jumped from 6% to 18%, and even more unfortunate is that the number of obese children aged 6-11 years has increased from 4% to 20%.  Although our student body does not appear to struggle with obesity, good nutrition is still critical because many of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality around the world (particularly in the developed world) such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and certain cancers are DIRECTLY linked to diet.   

While we are a diverse, international community, I reference guidelines and statistics from the United States because those stats provide an accurate picture of what overconsumption of added sugars, fats, and sodium can do to a population. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released guidelines for healthy amounts of added sugar consumption showing that the typical American diet is way over the limit.  Increased sugar consumption is linked with diabetes as well as obesity and cardiovascular disease. A typical child aged 4-8 should consume a maximum or 3 teaspoons (12-13 grams) total of added sugar a day, while pre-teens and adolescents should consume no more than 5-8 teaspoons (20-32 grams) total per day.  However, a study by the AHA has shown that on average children aged 4-8 are actually consuming a whopping 21 teaspoons per day while adolescents consume a staggering 34.3 teaspoons per day. Below is a list of typical sugary drinks and food items with their corresponding sugar content:

  • Coca Cola, Sprite (12 ounces): 10 teaspoons (39 grams)
  • Fanta (12 ounces): 11-12 teaspoons (44-48 grams) 
  • Tampico (12 ounces): 9.3 teaspoons (37 grams) 
  • Frosted Flakes (100 g): 9.5 teaspoons (38 grams) 
  • Muesli (100): 7.8 teaspoons (31 grams) 
  • Special K plain (100g): 3.2 teaspoons (13 grams) 
  • Yogurt (6 ounces): 6.8 teaspoons (27 grams) 
  • KitKat candy (100g): 12 teaspoons (48 g) 
  • Chocolate sandwich cookies (100g): 10 teaspoons (41g) 
  • Sugar cookies (100g): 9.5 teaspoons (38 g)

The other major food item that is being removed from the daily menu is french fries.   Fried foods such as french fries are high in calories and fat (particularly the bad fats – saturated and trans fats) with little or no nutritional value.  Saturated and trans fats have been shown to be a major cause of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease with absolutely no nutritional benefit.  In general, calories from fat should provide no more than 20-35% of your total daily calories.  

In an effort to be as thorough but as brief as possible, I’ve also outlined some of the other major, yet easy, ways to eat a healthier diet:

  • Make at least 50% of your grain consumption whole grains instead of refined (white) grains
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products 
  • Use oils (unsaturated fats) to replace solid fats (saturated and trans fats) such as butter 
  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake and choose items of all colors 
  • Choose lean proteins: beans, lean meats, seafood, soy products, unsalted nuts, and eggs 

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions.


Katie Morgan
School Nurse