Are you learning your food habits at home? Doesn’t look like it.

When I was a teacher, a common gripe among the staff was that the parent’s “weren’t doing their job” at home and how were “we,” the teachers supposed to make up for students whose parents didn’t read to them or encourage them to do their homework. This ongoing blame game ranged from discussions of reading ability, to discipline, to food. We often think that the home is where habits for a healthy life, or a disciplined student, or a physically fit individual begin and end. A new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health pokes a hole in our teacher’s lounge argument, showing that the relationship between dietary intake of parents and their children is weak, grows weaker with age and is growing weaker over time.

The study looked at parent-child dietary studies from different countries, including the U.S. over the past 30 years and found that across different countries, with similar and different methods, the relationship was weak. What does this mean? Does it mean that parents have no influence over what their children eat, and the type of eaters they become as they grow up? No. Individuals have a complex relationship with food and children are no different. Parents are a part of the relationship, but this study shows they are only a small part of what determines what and how we eat. It also shows that this relationship is becoming less strong as our society progresses. The weakening relationship could exist for many reasons, including: the growing independence of children, changing parenting styles, changes in our food system, increases in the amount of working mothers or changes in our home and social environments. An anecdotal article about award winning chefs and their kids from the Baltimore Sun recently, would attest to parent’s lack of influence. In the article, even James Beard award winning Chefs lunchbox concoctions can’t compete with lunchables. Read More >

Nearly 1,000 Chefs Answer First Lady ‘s Call to Adopt Local Schools

The White House Garden, June 4, 2010

The White House Garden, June 4, 2010

History was made Friday in Washington, DC as hundreds of chefs from more than 37 states descended on the South Lawn of the White House in hopes of accomplishing one thing — bringing an end to childhood obesity. Each of these gastronomical experts answered the call of First Lady Michelle Obama to adopt a school in their community and share their knowledge and passion for food. The Chefs Move to Schools program, a project of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, was conceived by White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass, the man behind the White House garden. So far, Kass says almost 1,000 chefs have signed up to be a part of the ambitious initiative.

Perhaps one of the most famous volunteers to take part in the event was celebrity-chef Rachel Ray. Ray has long championed the fight against childhood obesity. In 2006, she launched her own non-profit organization, Yum-O!, designed to “empower kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking.” Not afraid to get her hands dirty, Ray joined the First Lady, fellow chefs and students from a nearby elementary school in harvesting veggies from the White House garden. Graciously, Ray took a few moments to answer a few questions from me.

Coming up soon, complete coverage of the Chefs Move to Schools program and more inspiring words from the First Lady, Sam Kass and several other trailblazing chefs from Maryland to Haiti