I'm all for trying to to eat healthy, but seriously isn't this going a little TOO far?
'H' is for healthy eating
Think Sesame Street's Cookie Monster and think ... broccoli? In a fit of drastic behavior modification, the cookie-addicted bundle of fur is declaring that cookies are, in fact, only a "sometime food."
With any luck, the PBS kids show is onto something significant as it opens its 36th season next week: a new way to tackle childhood obesity affecting even preschoolers.
And growing fast. Wednesday, the new annual Index of Child Well-Being showed childhood obesity tripled to almost 17% in 2004 from 1975. The New England Journal of Medicine says about 10% of kids under 5 were overweight in 2000, a doubling in 30 years.
Sesame Street has taken note. While some cartoon characters - in Nickelodeon's LazyTown, for example - already encourage exercise, Sesame Street is going further by teaching healthy eating, active play and plenty of rest along with ABCs and 123s.
Regulars Big Bird, Elmo and others are being joined by new vegetable Muppets. They'll encourage kids to "eat your colors," play the "healthy foods name game" and sing The Mango Tango. And they'll tackle one of the most painful repercussions of obesity in kids: teasing and bullying.
A few episodes of Sesame Street do not a slim and healthy new generation make. But they can help mold informed behavior that, in the end, may be the best answer to the obesity epidemic. The preschool years are critical to forming habits and attitudes.
Without change, the future kids face is alarming. Two-thirds of American adults are obese or overweight. Some experts believe obesity will reduce life expectancy by months during the next half-century, after decades of progress. Financial costs are soaring. Medicare is increasingly strained by treating obesity-related diseases.
A Kaiser Family Foundation report says junk food ads now dominate TV pitches to kids, often with cartoon characters. Perhaps Sesame Street really can make "C," as the new Cookie Monster might say, for carrot sticks and change - besides that sometime cookie.