The War On Cupcakes (and Childhood Obesity)

buttercream_cupcake.jpgKids are fatter these days. But here’s a newsflash: it’s not from eating birthday cupcakes at school.

Some adults are trying to ruin everything by banning cupcakes. Yes, cupcakes, that little bastion of evil masquerading in a facade of frosting and sprinkles. A number of schools around the country “have put the kibosh on the mini-cakes for classroom birthday and other parties, claiming they’re key offenders in the growing child obesity and diabetes problems.”

The Cupcake Wars have begun.

Nancy Shivers, a New York PTA representative told New York Newsday, “We all grew up having cupcakes for birthday, and it’s a shame it came down to this. On the other side, if we’re going to be responsible (about nutrition), we really need to start in the schools.”

No. With all due respect, Ms. Shivers, we don’t really need to start in the schools.

We need to start at home.

Here’s the deal: kids are fatter than ever. Childhood obesity is on the rise. But as I stated earlier, it’s not because of eating cupcakes at school. It’s from playing video games instead of playing outside. It’s from eating fast food because no one is home to cook a decent meal. It’s from eating lots and lots of snacks given to them by parents who don’t have the guts to say no.

So instead of pointing the finger at parents (it’s never their fault), well-intentioned people want to bail them out with a ridiculous rule banning cupcakes. As if that’s the magic bullet that will slim kids down. Fortunately, Assemblyman Michael Benjamin is trying to put a stop to the nonsense, at least in New York.

On one hand, I am riled up by the people idiotic enough to consider banning cupcakes. They’re cupcakes! But the sad truth is, the adults who are really ruining everything are the parents who don’t care enough about their kids to give them limits and teach them proper nutrition. By sitting idly by and letting their kids stuff themselves with cookies and potato chips, they are allowing obesity and diabetes to take over, and they are robbing their children of a healthy childhood. Not too mention setting them up for a lifetime of problems.

Once again, an over-reaching bureaucratic institution is trying to step in and do the job for the real bad guys, parents who are not interested in doing theirs. And like trying to catch Niagara Falls in a tiny Dixie cup, that never works.

Let’s not take our problem of bad parenting out on the poor little cupcake. I agree with Linda Freda, a school official in the town of North Caldwell, New Jersey, where they decided against a ban on the sugary sensation. “They can still have a birthday party,” Freda said. “We’re a kindergarten through sixth-grade district. They’re only kids once.”

Amen, sister.

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  1. What an interesting article. While on the surface, banning the snacks at school seems like a good idea does it really help obesity?

    School officials need to ask themselves two other things:

    1. Am I doing this just to appease one or two parents who have complained or is this what the majority want?

    2. If I take away a fun food celebration, what will I replace it with? Too many adults lack any imagination to come up with an alternative and soon it gets birthday parties get canceled altogether since it’s no longer fun.

  2. Minette says:

    Before they ban cupcakes, maybe they need to think about the fact that in most schools, they have taken PE out of the curriculum??? When I was in elementary school, we had PE EVERY DAY. Kids these days seem lucky to have PE AT ALL. And, of course, recess seems to be falling by the wayside too in the ever-increasing need to prepare students for the “big bad world”. I agree with Ms. Freda. They’re only kids once. LET KIDS BE KIDS!!! My mother’s favorite comment when we said “we’re bored” was to say “go outside and play!” It’s too bad kids aren’t told that more often these days.

  3. I blogged about this very topic myself earlier in the week, indicating that I’d also like to see the cupcake left alone, and received very adamant comments from a couple of guys who sounded as though I was trying to stuff pounds of refined sugar down their children’s throats! Interesting that little old cupcakes should be such a hot-button.

    Minette, as a children’s physical activity specialist, I agree wholeheartedly that banning cupcakes while eliminating recess and PE is ridiculous. It reminds me of a picture I’ve seen of a small child with a finger in the hole in the dam!

  4. Shirley — To be fair, some of the stuff I read included suggested alternatives such as singing and dancing, games, and special privileges. But still, I agree that when left in the hands of adults, there is a good chance that these replacement ideas will be lame.

    Minette — GREAT point about PE! Seems to me like the effects of eating a cupcake once in a while could easily be offset with a daily dose of physical education. I did a post not too long ago about the demise of recess and free play: The Price of Losing Free Play

    Rae — Great take on the subject. It looks like some of those commenters have a pretty strong case of Adultitis!

  5. Drema says:

    After we take a good hard look at “cupcakes” in the classroom maybe we need to take another good hard look at school lunches. While systems make their brags about school lunches being so nutritious and healthy, one could tear apart all the nutitional facts and ingredients to prove that maybe a cupcake every now and then just isn’t so bad after all…especially when our children are being fed highly processed foods, preservatives of every imaginable kind, not to mention dyes, artificial flavorings that are loaded with fats and carbohydrates.

  6. Gina Goodbred says:

    A side note on the banning of cupcakes: Many times they are banned due to more kids with food allergies (eggs would be the culprit here, and possibly peanuts). I know our son’s preschool doesn’t allow home baked goodies, but they do encourage bringing in other prepackaged treats, or stickers (remember the smelly ones? Yum!).
    Just wanted to add that for a reason besides obesity why they are now contraband!

  7. Very interesting, Gina. Thanks for the extra tidbit!


  1. […] Jason wrote a fantastic post today on “The War On Cupcakes (and Childhood Obesity)”Here’s ONLY a quick extractChildhood obesity is on the rise. But as I stated earlier, it’s not because of eating cupcakes at school. It’s from playing video games instead of playing outside. It’s from eating fast food because no one is home to cook a decent meal. … […]

  2. […] we can ban cupcakes from schools. Then we can give out stuff like acorns and toothpaste to kids on Halloween. And you […]

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