Note:Â Â I originally published thisÂ a few days ago.Â However, I did a little further “research” which I added at the end.Â So I’m changing the date/time so it’ll be at the top for awhile.
The zigzag pattern of conversation is interesting.Â One topic/thought leads to another and then another until the conversation is about something totally separate from the original topic.
The other day the children in one of my reading groups were reading about the Revolutionary War.Â There was a paragraph about the Quakers and how they were pacifists during the war.Â One girl mentioned that the drawing of the Quaker man in the history book resembled the man on boxes of Quaker oatmeal.Â A couple of the kids remarked that they liked oatmeal, and IÂ told themÂ that RT had made Quaker oatmeal for our breakfast thatÂ morning.Â Â Of course the second I told what I’d eaten for breakfast, the children had to tell me what they’d had for breakfast.Â
It was an enlightening conversation.Â So enlightening that I grabbed pen and paper and wrote down what they told me.Â Later, IÂ asked the children in the next reading group to tell me what they’d had for breakfast, too.
Out of the eleven children in the two reading groups, three are significantly overweight.Â What did these significantly overweight elementary children have for breakfast?Â One had two Pop-Tarts, although she said that usually she has a ham & cheese Hot Pocket.Â Another had a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal, and the third had a S’mores Pop Tart, a bottle of Yoo-hoo, along with sausage and bacon.Â All three ate breakfast at home.Â About half of the other children had eaten breakfast in the school cafeteria.
A too-thin childÂ had had no breakfast. She said she skips breakfast about half the time, and that when she does have breakfast, it’s usually a bowl of cereal.Â The other children had things like French toast sticks and syrup, Eggo waffles, eggs, sausage, Froot Loops.Â One boy had a corn dog for breakfast.Â Another boy had a donut, cereal and apple juice.
Are there any conclusions to be drawn from this extremely limited sample of elementary school children?Â Nothing scientific – that’s for sure.Â However, here are a few observations:
I was surprised at the amount of junk food – toaster pastries, donuts, cereals like Froot Loops and Cap’n Crunch.Â Lots of processed foods and sugar.Â NONE of the children ate what I consider a healthy breakfast – whole grains, fruit, milk.Â As a matter of fact,Â none of the children had milkÂ except with cereal, and the only fruit was the one child who drank some apple juice.
The amount of food was surprising, too – from the child who skipped breakfast half the time to the child who ate not only a Pop Tart but drank a bottle of Yoohoo and had bacon and sausage, too.Â
I guess the main thing is that if these eleven children are representative of other elementary school children, then the breakfast habits of American children are abysmal, and it’s no wonder that AmericansÂ have becomeÂ so overweight.
Another thought I had is that these children come to me for reading help because they’re struggling readers.Â I wonder if the children who excel in reading would have different patterns of eating.Â Tomorrow I’ll meet with a group of 15 high readers.Â I’ll be asking them about what they eat for breakfast.
Monday, 3/5/07 Update:Â Okay, folks, here’s the update with the high readers.Â Out of a group of 15 high readers, there is only one child who is overweight.Â Â That child had what I call a “double breakfast.”Â She had sausage, eggs, chocolate milk AND a bowl of Cocoa Krispies.Â The other breakfasts in the groups were similar to that of the children I mentioned earlierÂ (pancakes, Lucky Charms, toaster strudel, Cap’n Crunch, Froot Loops, chocolate chip muffin, etc.)Â There was one notable exception.Â
I was eager to learn what one particular child had for breakfast because sheÂ was recently Â identified as “gifted” and is way above all the other children – even in the high group – in reading and other subjects, as well.Â Her breakfast?Â Yogurt, fruit and water.Â She was the only child out of about 30 children who had what I would consider a healthful breakfast.Â She also happens to be thin.
It’s totally unscientific, but I think you can draw some broad tendencies from my “research.”Â Out of 30 children, only one had eaten a healthful breakfast.Â All the others had eaten over-processed, high-fat, high-sugar foods for breakfast.
I also wondered about the children in the low groups.Â Out of eleven children, there were three that were significantly overweight, and one that was borderline.Â Out of a group of 15 high readers, only one was overweight.Â I wonder if there are any correlations there, too.Â I know excess weight makes me have less self-confidence and I don’t feel as alert and eager to learn.Â It likely has a negative impact on children, too.
My daughter-in-law is in the last few weeks of her nursing degree program, and they’re doing clinicals.Â One of the clinicals is in public health where they go to elementary schools to do body fat measurements.Â She said it is amazing the terrible physical condition (in terms of weight and lack of exercise) of many children.