Cupcake Wars; Battling Childhood Obesity One Cupcake At a Time

Spider Halloween Cupcakes by Jean James

Why is it that when America has a problem with something their only solution is declare war on it?  There’s the war on drugs, the war on guns, the war on terror, the war on women, the war on Christmas, the war on cancer, the war on job creation, the war on marriage, the war on free speech, the war on war, the war on ethics, the war on working moms, the war on murder, the war on success, the war on sugary drinks, the war on fossil fuels, the war on soda, the war on obesity and therefore the war on cupcakes.  There are so many wars going on, I’m having a hard time keeping it all straight in my head.  Maybe there should be a war on declaring war on everything!  Just saying…

So back in 2010 the Obama administration signed into law the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HH-FKA).  This was enacted to battle both hunger and childhood obesity by presenting guidelines to improve the nutritious value of school lunches, while concurrently providing accessibility to lunch programs for children who were otherwise going to school hungry.  At the helm of the battleship USS Fat and Hungry Kids, is our effervescent First Lady, Michele Obama.  I applaud her efforts for drawing national awareness to a distended obesity crisis among children, teenagers, and adults.  But as a nurse, and a bit of cynic, I also realize that the obesity epidemic is costing the U.S. government approximately 3 billion dollars a year for those children covered under Medicaid, and about 11 billion dollars a year for those privately insured.  So when big money is at stake, it’s no wonder we have to declare war on something.  And that something right now is the cupcake.

Because of this new HH-FKA law, I received a notice home from my children’s elementary school principal  informing me that the time-honored tradition of bringing in cupcakes for your kid’s birthday party at school was being eliminated.  In lieu of cupcakes the notice recommended bringing in  “goodie bags”.   It seems our principal is going all Mayor Bloomberg on our kids big, fat asses, and has decided (along with the Federal Government), that they’ve had one cupcake too many.  I have to tell you that I received this notice on the same day I picked up my kids from school, and was slammed in the face by the odor of bacon wafting down the hallway from the cafeteria…you know bacon, the other white fat!

Now I don’t know about you, but I love making cupcakes for my kid’s birthday parties at school.  Two of them have birthdays in the fall, which gives me a whole lot of creativity time making Halloween themed spooky masterpieces.  The kids mostly love to look at the cupcake designs, eat the frosting off the top, and throw the rest of the cupcake in the garbage, so I’m pretty sure the caloric intake isn’t as high as the government might think.  The goodie bags, on the other hand, are mostly filled with candy (100% ingestion rate guaranteed) and or landfill crap (cheap toys imported from China probably coated in toxic lead levels).

Look, I get it, childhood obesity is ever-expanding, but I don’t need the President, the Mayor, or my school principal telling me what I can or cannot feed my kids.  We need to look a little deeper, beyond the batter and frosting, outside the schoolyard grounds, far, far away from the White House lawn, and into the windows of the kitchens of the culprits of the cause of the obese children.  If you’re a parent that means you!

17% of children and adolescents 2-19 years old are obese in this country.  If one parent is obese then their child has a 50% chance of being obese, if both parents are obese, that risk goes to 80%. It is the personal responsibility of parents to  provide an environment of health at home for themselves and their children.  I’m a parent, I’m not obese.  I exercise regularly, I eat right, and once in a while I like to enjoy a cupcake.  This problem of obesity is self-induced and self-indulgent.  Most people are quiet aware that they are overweight.  But try telling someone they can’t have something, and all you do is make them want it more.

America has not won one war it has declared war on.  We still have a drug problem, there are way too many guns on the street, the terrorists keep terrorizing us, people are still dying from cancer, and fat people keep getting fatter.  Government intervention is never the solution to solving personal problems.  Banning cupcakes from school isn’t going to make any child thinner.

This problems run deep in the psyche of Americans.  Somewhere in the last twenty years kids stopped being kids.  Playing video games won out to playing kick the can.  Paranoia won out to trusting that kids could play outside with their friends, and if as a parent you’re so worried about them being abducted, then get YOUR fat ass off the couch and go play with them!  We’ve become a nation of instant gratification and reward.  Had a hard day…I deserve a drink; boyfriend broke up with you, have a pint of Haagen-Dazs, kid throwing a temper tantrum, give him a cookie to shut him up.  Life isn’t easy, but  we don’t have to have a treat every time the going gets tough.

I worry about the weakness of overindulgent Americans, but I worry more about our weakness to stand up and keep big brother’s hands out of our cookie jars.