Monday, April 27, 2009

Selling Obesity at Schools?

This morning’s New York Times had an article on “Selling Obesity at Schools.” With the obesity rates of children and adolescents tripling over the last four decades, legislators may be waking up.

The government is subsidizing crops such as corn and soy which comprise much of the food supply, and foods children eat in the cafeterias and buy in vending machines. What might happen if fruits and vegetables were subsidized?

School meals in both private and public schools are typically high calorie foods low in protein and healthy fats and high in refined carbohydrates. Vending machines and snack bars sell cookies, candy bars, and chips. Few sell healthy snacks like nuts, cheese or fresh fruit. Most of the snacks contain high fructose corn syrup (see entry on HFCS, Leptin and Weight 4/3/09) which increase carbohydrate cravings and hunger levels.

Education at home is very helpful, but if schools do not provide healthy choices, children are receiving unhealthy meals 5 meals a week. Organic, healthy food does cost more but what is the cost to our younger generation? Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure 20-30 years prematurely.

Change for healthy options starts with planning at home - providing a bag lunch – so a school lunch is not the only option. Bring your children with healthy snacks after school so the fast food drive through is not enticing. Challenge the schools to start providing healthy meals to children – otherwise the upcoming generation will be in trouble – with a burden to their health and our medical system.

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