Food Allergies on the Rise
It’s normal for kids to be nervous about starting school. But today, parents and children have more reason to worry.
According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, incidences of food allergies have skyrocketed, doubling in the last 10 years. The problem is scientists don’t know why. More than 12 million Americans, or one in 25, suffer from this potentially life-threatening situation. Among them are 2.2 million school-age children.
It’s extra nerve-wracking for mom and dad to send allergy-stricken sons and daughters off to class again, especially since food allergens can be found not just in meals and snacks, but in art projects, craft activities and even math lessons.
“Just one bite of the wrong food can bring on anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction that can cause death,” says Anne Muñoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. “Even trace amounts can be enough to cause problems — sometimes just through skin contact or from inhalation when food is being cooked.”
Snack producers are doing their part by clearly labeling foods that may have been exposed to peanuts, soy, milk or eggs, for example. However, there is no uniform food allergy policy to guide our nation’s schools.
According to Muñoz-Furlong, “The bottom line is that parents can’t be sure that a school is equipped to protect their child.”
This might change as a result of legislation recently introduced in Congress. If passed, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act would call on the federal government to establish voluntary national guidelines for managing students with food allergies.
For more information, visit
Saved by the Bell
It’s a good thing school’s back in session. While college students often suffer from the “freshmen fifteen,” many 5- to 6-year-olds gain more weight over the summer than during the academic year, according to a recent study by The Ohio State University and Indiana University.
Researchers examined the growth rates of the body-mass indexes of 5,380 kindergarteners and first graders. The data was provided by a National Center for Education Statistics survey that ran from fall 1998 to spring 2000 in 310 schools nationwide. Results showed that the BMIs were, on average, more than twice as much during summer when compared with the school year.
Researchers speculate that summer months lack the structure of school days, perhaps accounting for the weight gains. Doug Downey, who co-authored the report, suggests that kids have too much free time when school’s out, during which they eat more snacks and play more video games, for example.
Apparently, parents who criticize public schools for poor lunches and blame snack producers for unhealthy vending machine offerings could do a better job at home, too.
To purchase the complete study, visit
Not Sweatin’ Enough
Richard Simmons was a self-proclaimed “fat kid” who hated P.E. However, he’s now one of the biggest phys ed proponents out there.
“Everyone wants to know why America’s kids are overweight and out of shape,” Simmons states on his Web site,” Well, I can answer that question for you in one sentence: Kids don’t get enough exercise!”
The 60-year-old fitness guru has decided to practice what he’s preaching by going to Washington, D.C., in support of a bill — now H.R. 3257, a sister to H.R. 1224 — that would return gym class to schools nationwide.
“We all want to see America’s children grow healthier, so I am making it my personal crusade to bring physical fitness back to our schools!” he says.
Simmons asks everyone to take his national Ask America survey, the link to which can be found at He also encourages visitors to write their congressmen, and even provides a template on his Web site that users can easily fill out and send in … no sweat.
Editor’s Note
Today’s “after-school snacks” go beyond mere milk and cookies. Products of all flavors, portions and nutritional profiles now compete for attention from kids, as well as their parents. In this section, we check out the latest items for young snackers, including healthful and organic offerings. We also examine relevant trends, news and health studies. With nationwide concern over childhood obesity at an all-time high, America needs to examine just what kids are, could and should be eating … before, during and after that final school bell rings. Please send comments, questions and suggestions to Deborah Cassell, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s managing editor, at