I often refer to this time of year as the "onslaught of sugar season". Starting with Halloween and continuing through the New Year (ok, Valentine's Day), we are surrounded by seasonal treats, candy, baked goods, etc. And while I admit to consuming my fair share of these items, it is tricky time for parents to navigate how, when, and in what amounts these treats play into daily life.
Reducing sugar consumption was a recurring topic during the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health held on September 28, 2022. When this conference last convened over 50 years ago, the primary concern was addressing malnutrition resulting in expansions to the Food Stamp and School Lunch Programs, authorization of the Supplemental Feeding Program for Women Infants and Children, and improvements to nutrition and ingredient labeling. In 2022, the conference focused on solutions to end hunger and promote healthy eating to reduce diet-related diseases (read full recommendations here). With mounting evidence that added sugars in foods increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, the national strategy calls for:
Increasing access to healthy foods.
Switching nutrition labels to the front of food packages to quickly identify sugar content.
Creating limits for added sugar in food products (similar to sodium).
Addressing marketing of unhealthy foods including those high in sugar.
We are also thrilled that school food was included in this conversation, calling on food industry to supply foods "that are low in sodium and added sugars—and high in whole grains, particularly for the K-12 market". Additional provisions highlight the importance of supporting efforts to improve the nutritional quality of school meals. This work provides a pathway forward for the MA Healthy School Lunch Bill and our ongoing advocacy to ensure nutritional security for children across the state.
Wishing you a healthy (albeit sugary) fall season. If like me you will attempt to fill you kids with a healthy meal before trick or treating, here's a fun recipe idea for Healthy Halloween Stuffed Peppers.