and Your Child
An extremely important article in the world's leading medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine, makes clear how important the role of school lunches is in the explosion of childhood obesity in the United States, and how the food industry wants to keep it that way.
School lunches tend to provide our children with a caricature of what a responsible person would feed their child. In almost every category of what matters when it comes to what our kids should eat, the school lunch stands out as a example of what not to do.
What type of foods are good for your health- fruits and vegetables. This is the one category of food school lunches deliver most poorly.
How much food should a child eat at a meal? School lunches typically deliver 500 extra calories a day!
What sorts of foods can cause the most harm? That would be fat and sugar, school lunches deliver these in abundance as well as excess salt.
There are two big problems with this picture:
1. Schools provide about half of all the food our children eat during their school aged years. So whatever school lunches are, our kids have no choice but to be at least 50% nutritionally defined by that offering.
2. Schools are responsible. We place our children there with hopes that they will learn skills that will provide a long, healthy, and successful life to them. Children think that what happens at school reflects our best wishes for them.
Put those two simple facts together, and it becomes all the more outrageous that on every count of what a reasonable person would do to eat to become healthy rather than ill, that our schools do the exact opposite of what should be done.
The article then goes on to point out that we the people have actually tried to fix this terrible situation. In 2010 a law was passed that would move school lunches towards less caloric overloading, more fruits and vegetables, and less fat and sugar and salt. Not a very radical idea, really more of an act of care and responsibility to our children.
Now, we come to why the doctors from Boston wrote and published this article. The food industry is trying to kill the law. It actually is fighting to make sure our kids continue to be stuffed with large extras of calories, fat, and sugar. Most shocking? That schools are joining industry in fighting the new standards.
Their main objections to the law are that the improved nutrition leads to more food being thrown away and more students dropping out of school lunch programs. The data proves neither happens.
So here we are, finally doing something about the scandal of the grown-ups of our country feeding our children exactly the wrong things, and the industry that makes the food, and schools (!) are organizing to keep hurting them.
About 1/3 of our children, at this time, will end up obese. At the very least this dooms millions of our children to diabetes and a shorter life for no very good reason.
As parents who care for our children, we urge everyone to make sure their school district chooses to make the improvements in school lunches the Health, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) ask it to. Make sure your schools do not seek a waiver from this law. From our point of view, the idea that our kids need to be fed food that will not make them ill over time is a rather basic responsibility of their parents and schools.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin
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