Child eats rice to expand stomach for contest

All over the United States this summer, in every county, the youth of America are celebrating the 4-H fair. Some are showing their cows, pigs, lambs, and llamas; many are displaying their homemade butter cakes, yeast rolls, cookies, and garden produce; most are having the time of their lives!  All are participating in a week of county fair activities; everything from midway rides to tractor pulls to eating Funnel Cakes and Elephant Ears.

4-H fair emblemIf you were a 4-H’er as a kid, you know the infamous pledge: 

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

 I wrote about the paradoxical message of 4-H pledge last summer on Disease Proof.

Recently, I was glancing through my hometown’s evening paper, and my eye caught the following title, Technique Matters: Contestants feel the need for speed . . . eating.” 1 It was an article devoted to the pizza eating contest at the 4-H fair. An eleven-year-old boy won the contest by stacking one slice on top of the other before devouring them. He was interviewed and said that he didn’t really prepare, but ate rice the night before to expand his stomach. He enters the contest because it’s fun. 


Are we really teaching the next generation of youth to devote his/her health to better living? . . . . to pledge their heads to clearer thinking?

As Dr. Fuhrman expressed in a follow-up post last year, “It’s not just the 4-H fair, it’s everywhere.” read more . . . .

What are your observations of the county fairs and festivals this summer? What tangible and proactive ways can we be contributors and role models of health to this next generation? Let’s dialogue and see if we can come up with some innovative solutions to this ongoing crisis.  


1 The News Sentinel; July 23, 2010, 3L, by Paige Chapman

image credits:   4-H emblem,; boy eating pizza,  

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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Dinneen Viggiano - August 5, 2010 11:32 AM

We can get involved in our childrens' schools to facilitate less sugar, less processed foods from the cafeteria. Talk to teachers and parents about re-thinking class room snacks and birthday treats to include fruit and vegetables. Ask the school principal if you can go in to the classrooms to show children different fruits and vegetables, discuss how they grow and then allow the children to perform a taste test and vote on their favorite new produce item.

Diane - August 5, 2010 12:43 PM

The food offered at fairs is simply awful, everything fried, sugar filled, or sat around in the heat of a warm summer day! Gracious, what can we do?

Jeane - August 6, 2010 8:12 AM

Okay, everyone, can get on a soap box, go to the school, etc etc. But really, what is everyone doing AT HOME? Are we talking it or walking it? Lets get honest. Lets "home school" our children on nutrition and health.

Ginger - August 6, 2010 1:49 PM

I have a great idea. Homeschool the children and be the leader, coach, or whatever to eliminate 90% of this problem.

Emily Boller - August 6, 2010 2:24 PM

Yes, home is where it all begins, but many parents in America are junk food addicts themselves, so healthy eating is not going to happen at home. We must, as a culture, lookout for the health and welfare of others; and innocent children are at the top of that list, in my opinion.

Karen - August 7, 2010 10:35 AM

I am afraid the county and state fairs have a lot of junk food. that is why a lot of the population likes to go to them. One of the things the average person does not understand is that organic foods - and a lot less sugar actually taste good. You have to know how to cook them. We are blinded by sugar and white flour. Nutrition should be mandatory and taught in the schools and at 4-H.

Rachel Assuncao - August 9, 2010 9:14 AM

I have been pleasantly surprised by the healthy options cropping up at the events I've been to so far this year. So far, over 3 festivals, I've experienced an icy cold smoothie made entirely of frozen fruit (fresh made to order), a wonderful salad, and a wrap with a whole grain tortilla, plenty of veggies and just enough grilled chicken. I've also seen grilled cheese - made with whole grain bread and real cheese. None of it might be as healthy as what I'd choose to make at home, but it's all way healthier than choosing the corn dog or enormous bag of sugar, food coloring and artificial flavors we call cotton candy. My observation is that eating at a fair or festival is just like eating at home - it's all about the choices we make.

I think we need to step back and evaluate programs like 4-H and even the food studies programs in our schools. Are we, as parents, willing to pay more to ensure that the foods they are learning to cook in these places are healthy? Our local high school charges $5/student to take the food studies class. With 30 kids, that's only $150 in food budget for an entire semester! There is a small budget in place within the school beyond that, but it doesn't go far and I know that the teachers feel helpless because they want to teach the kids healthy cooking but don't have the budget for it. We all need to step up to the plate and assist our children in learning healthier choices at home and at school or in extra-curricular programs.

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