It’s that some day, children will go out trick or treating for fruits and vegetables:
First Lady Michelle Obama held a news conference last night, where she predicted that one day, children would go out on Halloween and beg for healthy food instead of candy.
No, not the Onion.
Michelle is ignoring, or trying to override, the fact that kids gravitate towards sweets even as babies. For most people the desire seems innate, a natural inclination that has some survival value.
Then again, as Katherine Hepburn’s character says to Humphrey Bogart’s in the fabulous “The African Queen”:
Progressives on a mission would often like to ignore the world as it is and make the world a better place—by their definition of “better,” of course. In this they resemble many crusaders, but crusaders would do well to take nature into consideration as much as possible. As far as sweets and children go, it might not be so nice to fool Mother Nature:
As any parent knows, children love sweet-tasting foods. Now, new research from the University of Washington and the Monell Center indicates that this heightened liking for sweetness has a biological basis and is related to children’s high growth rate.
“The relationship between sweet preference and growth makes intuitive sense because when growth is rapid, caloric demands increase. Children are programmed to like sweet taste because it fills a biological need by pushing them towards energy sources,” said Monell geneticist Danielle Reed, PhD, one of the study authors.
Across cultures, children prefer higher levels of sweetness in their foods as compared to adults, a pattern that declines during adolescence. To explore the biological underpinnings of this shift, Reed and University of Washington researcher Susan Coldwell, PhD, looked at sweet preference and biological measures of growth and physical maturation in 143 children between the ages of 11 and 15.
The findings, reported in the journal Physiology & Behavior, suggest that children’s heightened liking for sweet taste is related to their high growth rate and that sweet preferences decline as children’s physical growth slows and eventually stops
On Halloween we give out sweets because they are treats, something a bit forbidden and special. Why would children beg for fruits and vegetable instead, as the First Lady suggests? I can think of only one reason: if they’ve been deprived of them, or of food in general.
And since now I’ve got “The African Queen” on the brain, I’ve got to add this clip. Which has nothing to do with Michelle and sweets, but I like it (especially Hepburn’s masterful little chin quiver that begins at around 2:13)
[ADDENDUM: Commenter "Ann" provided a transcript of Michelle Obama's speech. Apparently she didn't explicitly make a Halloween reference in her remarks, although she did use the word "begging." It was the newspaper headline that said she was referring to Halloween. The context was the date (Oct. 30).]