Will Improving School Lunches Affect Childhood Obesity?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/9/2010 6:16 AM   :  161 comments   :  18,837 Views

I've done numerous blogs about children and healthy eating. The topic has always interested me, but even more-so now that I have children of my own. Every day we hear statistics about the number of obese children in America and strategies for how to solve this growing problem. I wasn't familiar with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver until a few months ago, when I saw his new show being promoted on network television. I was curious to see if his approach to tackling childhood nutrition and obesity was going to work. Some say "yes", some say "no way".

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution takes place in Huntington, West Virginia, which has been labeled as one of the unhealthiest cities in America. It is based on a program he implemented in England five years ago, which sought to revamp the school lunch system and provide healthier options for kids. For more details on the show, check out 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution': Will It Work?, a dailySpark blog that was written when the show debuted.

England's new health minister, Andrew Lansley, is criticizing the government's attempt to raise the quality of state-funded school lunches as a result of Oliver's campaign. Lansley said that Oliver's experiment actually caused fewer children to eat school meals. More children started packing their lunches, so the schools implemented further controls by determining what foods the children were allowed to bring to school. Parents responded by giving their kids money to buy food outside of school, at local shops. So in the end, if kids wanted to get the junk food instead of having a nutritious meal, they'd have the resources to do it outside of school hours. "There is a risk if we constantly are lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we might undermine and be counterproductive in the results that we achieve," said Lansley.

According to the School Fund Trust (a government agency designed to improve children's meals), "There had been a dip in the take-up of school meals following Oliver's television campaign in 2005, but that this was probably because of the publicity the celebrity chef gave to the poor quality of food on offer at the time."

Although I have some reservations about Oliver's program, I applaud his efforts for trying to get things moving in the right direction. Is the school lunch program the best place to start? I think the place we really need to start is with parents, educating them, and creating behavior change for the whole family. Then good choices will naturally follow. If a healthy school lunch is offered, but parents give the child money to buy something else so they don't have to eat the school meal, that's not teaching anyone how to change. But does that mean that school lunch improvements aren't worth the effort?

What do you think? Is a program like Oliver's a good idea, better than nothing, or a waste of time? If it's not a good idea, what is your proposal for tackling the issue of childhood obesity?


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Comments

  • 111
    I love his ideas, however when I go grocery shopping and glance in peoples cart I still see families drinking whole milk. Are we ready for this ideas. Ii don't know? - 7/10/2010   7:05:24 PM
  • 110
    School meals should be healthy no matter what way you look at it. Of course it only goes so far depending on what is cooked at home. To top it off in many school districts kids are eating breakfast on site not just lunch so it is even more important to have healthy meals. In recent years I have come to realize my K-8 was way ahead of the times. You couldn't get candy or sodas at school and they have recently done away with the "juice" drinks. Even though it was healthy the food was good (made from scratch). All of the prepackaged foods schools serve I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. When I was in 7th grade my middle school actually added a salad bar in addition to the hot lunch. But as others have mentioned unless you get the family on the wagon you can only do so much good. The big key with the healthy lunches is the need for it to taste good. On Top Chief a couple of weeks ago they had a healthy school lunch challenge that included using the same kitchen equipment and budget per child as the school had. Just some food for thought most of the kids preferred it to the typical lunch they got. - 7/10/2010   6:27:35 PM
  • 109
    I think Jamie's efforts and concerns are valid...all school lunches are unhealthy choices. BUT that alone is not the cause of childhood obesity. Parents are the enablers...they need to learn to say NO...they are the ones who buy and prepare food/meals at home...Healthy choices and habits begin at home. - 7/10/2010   6:13:24 PM
  • 108
    I saw the episode in Huntington, WV which is near and dear to my heart, since it's the Tri-State area I grew up in. I don't know what happened in England, but I think the approach Jamie made starting in Huntington was a good one. The challenge was to teach 1,000 people in one week how to cook. Not only how to cook, but how to cook a quick, nutritious meal loaded with flavor. He accomplished that. And I think that's the key, just like the article said. You don't start with the school. You start teaching those concepts at home. How can the parents teach good habits if they don't know good habits themselves? They have to learn and implement the concepts themselves. Then you teach your children to do the same thing. Jamie's idea is a great one and coincides with Spark People's objective too. You start a spark with one person and they pass it on. Eventually the concept will be a world-changing revolution. Jamie is starting this revolution, one person at a time, one city at a time. Kudos to him for his time and efforts! - 7/10/2010   4:10:13 PM
  • KAKIPOPUP
    107
    Simple answers to simple problems are fine - simple answers for complex problems never work. I don't know of any parent who wakes up in the morning saying "today, I'm going to help Johnny get as fat as I possibly can". Wouldn't it be nice if all of us had all of the resources (internal/psychological as well as external/financial) we need so that making "good" choices would not involve deciding to skip the rent payment this month so we could afford quality whole wheat bread (rather than the day-old puffy white bread which we can get for $1.)? Wouldn't it be nice if we all lived in neighborhoods where it was safe for our children to play outside? Wouldn't it be nice if we all could have what some of us are blessed with?

    Or would some of us who feel that we have earned our blessings feel cheated? Let's point the fingers at ourselves, not at "those people out there", and, if we are blessed, do what we can to help those who are not as blessed as we are.

    P.S. Here is a link to an article on the Health News section of the site -

    http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource
    /health_news_detail.asp?health_day=
    640967


    I think this information is relevant.

    Ok, I'm off the soapbox.
    - 7/10/2010   3:09:48 PM
  • 106
    I was a military wife and my children moved every 3-4 years to a new state/school system. They were exposed to different types of foods and school budgets. The poorer states often had higher calorie foods because sometimes that was the childs only meal for the day.
    We can't blame just the schools for overwieght children. We also live in a time where parents don't feel safe letting their children walk to school or walk to the school bus or even play outside and I don't blame them a bit. Many of you
    still live in towns where that's still ok, but I live in a big city and I worry about my grandchildren waiting to take the school bus or walking places without their parents. Our elementary schools don't even have regular recess where kids can run and pay and get exercise and my oldest grandsons only had gym class 1/2 a year. We have to find alternative ways to help them get exercise and not let them sit around all afternoon and evening playing games on the computer! - 7/10/2010   2:23:53 PM
  • 105
    I work in a school that has been negatively impacted by "No Child Left Behind." As with the nutrition programs, there's only so much the school can do, only so much influence that the teachers and staff can make. The most difference will be made by the parents. We can have the best reading programs, the best teachers, and high dedication. Without parents supporting that 20 minutes a night reading practice and valuing books and literature at home, the odds are that the child will not learn to read well. Likewise, you could have the very best quality food, prepared with skill and artistry, served to these kids on a daily basis. How much difference does it make if the parents prefer high-fat, high-sodium, low-nutritive value foods?

    That being said, the schools, nonetheless, have a responsibility to provide the best education and the best nutrition available. It will make some difference. It just might not be as dramatic as the fund-providers would hope for. There are no easy cures to societal ills. - 7/10/2010   1:46:23 PM
  • 104
    I don't see how you can make a successful substantive change at school without parental support. As the blog points out, parents can always subsidize bad habits. Mixing an improved menu with intelligent--and fun--education about why the junk IS junk might work. I don't know; I teach college kids and their food habits range from fanatically good to freakily terrible. When I eat at the dorm, I am totally fascinated by what goes on (albeit the way I am when I watch a video of a snake eating a mouse whole).

    We know the answers. Anyone who claims s/he doesn't either is without access to the media or without senses to absorb the information. Now it's back to the old issue--does each person have the character to make necessary changes, changes suitable to each person's particular needs? So far, we know the answer to that, too. - 7/10/2010   1:22:40 PM
  • 103
    Just like us...kids will be learning that food makes a difference in how we grow and live. Healthy or unhealthy. The best thing that schools could do is not just to change the offerings at school for lunches and breakfasts, but to include classes right from the 1st grade and on up about what good nutrition is!!! I wish that I had this from when I became an emotional eater at the age of 9!!! my 1st fat cells were full in grade 3!!! I didn't have a problem before that. Hormones started with me early and it is something that both sexes will need to combat themselves. Do you ever see obese kids before the age of 8??? Not usually. That is when an education on foods NEEDS to start and the schools can do BOTH. Good choices in the lunch-room and learning WHY in the classroom!!! - 7/10/2010   12:49:30 PM
  • 4THEBEAUTYINME
    102
    Okay, I know school lunch is a big deal, but I think its goes way beyond school lunch! Parenting plays an important role too, but my biggest concern is that we don't teach children! There are no nutrition classes for children from elementary all the way through highschool! Phys. Ed. only forces children to exercise and I NEVER had a coach explain to me WHY I was supposed to be doing jumping jacks or walk a mile or play kickball. There is no information being provided so that kids can make healthy choices for themselves! I was became officially obese in the 5th grade and have yet to get out of that range, but I KNEW I was fat in the 5th grade! I KNEW I was different and I WANTED to change, but no one ever explained to me HOW! I never learned portion control either at school or at home and worse, no one ever told me it was important! I am confident, however, that if they had I would have taken there advice and tried to loose weight. No one wants to be fat, not even children. Personally I think we need a total curriculum overhaul for students, and yes, get the parents involved too through assignments, homework and PTAs. I think saying it starts with the parents is a cop-out because there is very little we can actually implement to get older, independent citizens to change. I think it starts with the children, but you can't go around making random changes and not explaining to the kids what its all about. Then they won't LEARN anything and will invariably simply find ways to overcome or sabotage your efforts. Change means nothing without knowledge! - 7/10/2010   12:44:21 PM
  • GAARAMA
    101
    It is like everything in life. Healthy eating,respect for others,prayer starts in the home with the parents.
    School budgets determine what is served to the children and with the economy the way it is I am afraid more schools are being forced to serve less healthy choices.
    I admire what Jamie attempted to do and brought national attention to the school lunch programs. Lets hope that he lit a big enough fire to make a change.
    The ultimate responsibility lies with the parent and the choices they make for their children. - 7/10/2010   12:08:39 PM
  • 100
    The question is how to develop healthy life style in children? School lunches==both public, private and charter can be addressed as helpful. Programs that include the parents to develop healthy life styles are the answer. How does American do that with the job situation, the divorce situation, the mental health situation, the substance abuse situation, and the distorted image of women situation?
    1. Have rewards for healthy lifestyle
    2.Have tv show for healthy lifestyle
    3. Have national competition for healthy lifestyle
    4. Trophy to "famous" family with healthy lifestyle

    Make healthy lifestyle as popular slogan as "Go Green" or "Rock and Roll"
    - 7/10/2010   10:26:20 AM
  • 99
    We give school lunches more credit than they deserve for childhood obesity. - 7/10/2010   10:23:35 AM
  • 98
    I agree with sunshine 6859 - most people do not realize how regulated school lunches are. That said, our school has made positive changes. We serve 2% milk, whole wheat breads, a variety of fruit & yogurt & salads are available everyday. Fries are limited to twice a week. Chips & pop are gone. Unfortunately, our ladies make the most delicious desserts...most of the students do not buy them however, because they cost extra & we live in a 65+% free lunch school.

    ...and our kids really like corn. *sigh* - 7/10/2010   10:14:50 AM
  • 97
    I think it's great and necessary to improve children's eating and lunch programs. The junk that is in the schools now for fund raising and cost savings would never had been allowed when I was in public school and we also had gym class - 7/10/2010   9:50:00 AM
  • 96
    I do think it's important to improve the quality of school lunches in ALL schools in this country. Having lived in multiple states with 3 kids I can testify the food offered varies widely. Kids may not always choose the healthiest, and my own kids love french fries when they can get them, but they will learn from at least having choices to make. In a good situation the school can support the parents efforts to have their kids eat healthier meals. In other circumstances the school is providing new foods to kids that they may not see at home, like fruits and vegetables. They may not choose them but they see them and may eventually give it a go.

    Parents are always responsible for their kids health and fitness, and I've seen many parents also eat fries at every meal, not serve choices of vegetables, and keep soda and candy close at hand. How to reach parents is more challenging and I think that's where more resistance comes from. That's one of the things I've seen on Jaime's program, that working directly with the kids does wonders. - 7/10/2010   9:20:48 AM
  • RANGERRUNNER
    95
    I think the children should be taught nutrition in school, however, I would want it taught by someone who actually knows what they are teaching. My children never ate school meals because they said they were "gross". But then would come home and talk about how this teacher brought donuts in for everyone, or Mrs. so and so brought soda and cookies. - 7/10/2010   8:51:50 AM
  • TOMNJERI
    94
    One thing I know for sure. If parents don't teach their children healthy eating habits, they'll have all kinds of health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. With the state of health care as the current administration wants it, they'll be lucky if they get the proper timely medical care. - 7/10/2010   8:31:11 AM
  • 93
    The high school that I taught at this last year served french fries with almost EVERY meal, including with pizza. The only exceptions were other high starch meals, like breaded orange chicken, two cups of rice, chow mein noodles and corn for the vegetable. The alternative choices weren't a whole lot better: breaded chicken patty sandwich, hamburger, pizza or burritos. Depending on the day, DECA might have mini salads (heavily laden with cheese and deli meats) or Subway sandwiches, but those usually ran out in the first 5 or 10 minutes of the lunch period. Other days, DECA offered Popeye's.
    With a closed campus (and no commercial food places within a mile or so) the students, and teachers, either brought their own lunches or suffered through the offering of the day. When I started consistently bringing my lunch, it very positively impacted my weight loss.
    I made the mistake of trying to discuss the nutrition with the cafeteria manager one day, and she didn't see what was wrong with all of the starches and fat. (Granted, she doesn't have much control in a district with 14 high schools.)
    Teaching life skills to special needs students below the general academic standards gave us lots of opportunities to discuss nutrition, to cook (I had an awesome kitchen!) and to introduce new foods like artichokes and mangoes. Most of the students really enjoyed that. - 7/10/2010   8:31:08 AM
  • 92
    I've taught in quite a few elementary and middle schools over my 30+ teaching career. As a single person for many of those years, I have always eaten school lunch as my big meal of the day. There was only one school where I made a point of not eating their lunch unless I was desperate. The rest have had good to excellent food. The kids complain about the food at the middle school where I teach now and say it's nasty. When I question why they feel that way, it's usually because they don't care for a particular dish on the menu. Then choose something else. There are multiple choices of entrees and of fruits and veggies every day. They can buy snacks, but most are not really junk food. All chips and such are baked and have low fat content. It's impossible to please everyone all the time. I've seen some of the "lunches" that kids bring from home - junk food and high calorie drinks. Is this why classes after lunch are consistently more hyper? Much about getting kids to make healthy choices must start at home. Should teaching healthy eating habits be laid on the shoulders of the schools? If parents haven't laid the groundwork for good nutritional habits before a child comes to preschool or kindergarten, bad habits have already been learned. The schools would have an uphill climb to un-teach them. - 7/10/2010   8:16:14 AM
  • 91
    As a pediatrician who deals with overweight, obese and morbidly obese children, and high triglycerides and cholesterol in normal weight children every day, I can only say that if you change one child who is heading towards the food precipice, that is this country's daily non-nutritious food diet, then this is success.
    The truth is that I start at birth and slowly have seen a change in those children who have been with me all their lives versus having to change deep-set bad habits in a family's approach to eating and nutrition. But, I do have some success even then and I cheer on every child whom after approaching them as intelligent children start to slowly change their TV brain-washed beliefs that children do not like vegetables.
    My child became a flexetarian (mostly veggies and fruits, but does eat eggs, milk products and some meats: turkey and lamb mostly) at 12, so there is always hope.
    Hurray for all those that are trying to change our chronic disease disaster and trying to give our children quality lives as adults. - 7/10/2010   8:07:54 AM
  • 90
    as much as i wish it was a simple fix, it isn't. adding a bit of nutrition education for children is the key. if they can understand the importance of eating a healthy diet, they may willingly eat a healthy diet. - 7/10/2010   8:07:31 AM
  • MAGICWIZARD8
    89
    I don't think it's going to work. I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but a kid is a kid. What are we to do if they want cookies instead of letuce? - 7/10/2010   7:41:27 AM
  • 88
    I taught elementary school for 35 years and the times when I had the most problems with my weight- when I ate the school lunches! Every time I got lazy and stopped taking my lunch from home, I put on weight! Even though as a teacher I could pick and choose what I put on my plate, there was very little healthy there. Even the salad offerings weren't the healthiest.

    I am so against more govt. regulation in our lives, but I don't think making school lunches healthier amounts to govt. interference. I loved Jamie Oliver's program because he didn't just "preach" healthier foods, he educated the children and the adults about why they were important. My favorite part of the show wasn't something Jaimie did- it was the teacher who brought in fruits and vegetables the children weren't familiar with and made them part of her reading and math lessons. A big woohoo for her! That's what we have to do to change the obesity trends in this country. It is a combination of education, making healthy food choices available, and yes, getting recess and p.e. back in our schools. (I know teachers who've been called on the carpet for letting their kids have recess during the day- but that's another whole story!) - 7/10/2010   7:35:39 AM
  • 87
    Children live what they learn. We need all the help we can get to make a change. One person isn't going to get it down, but I commend Jamie Oliver on his effort!!!!!!!! WE NEED MORE PEOPLE WHO THINK HIS WAY! - 7/10/2010   7:31:25 AM
  • 86
    People were generally against Jaimie when he first came to the U.S. and started to try this in the schools. But when they got to know him and realized that his heart was genuine and he did care about other people and their health, they began to accept him. If we begin teaching are children when they are young, it isn't a diet, it's a life style and that's what this whole thing is all about isn't it? Granted, not everyone is going to take to it and not everyone is going to like it, but those that do will be much better off and those after them and those after them and those after them. Jaimie can help us set off a chain reaction and to that I say "Hats off, my friend! Keep up the good work!" - 7/10/2010   7:04:27 AM
  • 85
    Whether or not the parents accept their children eat the food or give them money, the healthy choices should be there regardless of what the parents do. Just because it doesn't work or isn't popular isn't a reason to quit making the right choices. You should do right even if those around you won't do right. There is no excuse for any school to feed kids food that is not nutritionally good for them. I don't care if they don't eat the food, why penalize the ones that will eat it? If you believe in making healthy choices available you make them available period, no excuses. Whatever reason the government in England has for criticizing the changes they are not right, they should support healthy choices and defend them and encourage the parents to have their children eat school lunches. They should educate the parents and provide solid reasons as to why these children should eat good food, tell them what happens if they do and what happens if they don't. Then let them make decision with that information. Educational institutions are there to educate our children to give them a chance to be successful because we can't or will not do it. Governments need to stop subsidizing unhealthy foods and pushing them off onto unsuspecting populations. Everything needs to be open and transparent instead of legislated towards the special interest groups who are subsidized by all governments around the world. I am not surprised by the reaction of the government in England. It probably is the same type of excuse you will hear from members of the US government when it comes time to talk about it in the US. - 7/10/2010   6:00:45 AM
  • 4SCOTT
    84
    i would love to see better food at school but that is hard to do.. as you know kids are picky and it is hard to throw away food because they won't eat it. - 7/10/2010   5:51:24 AM
  • 83
    I feel so sorry for Jamie Oliver to be slated so after doing so much valuable work so tirelessly.
    The fact is "you can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink"
    Parents need to be better educated on nutritional issues and realise that there is more to good parenting than buying expensive electronic games, designer label clothes and trips to fast food outlets.
    I overheard a mother saying that since the campaign the school now serves healthy food but in tiny unsatisfying portions.
    Do they not realise that a dinner plate full of healthy veg or salad has less calories than a tea plate of burgers and chips.
    These folk are in charge of our childrens education and yet they cannot even provide a satisfying healthy option! Worryign isn'tit.
    If it was my school I would be on the phone to the school governors pronto! - 7/10/2010   2:05:56 AM
  • 82
    I am close to 50. When I was going to school there was NO school lunch program, and NO ONE got a ride to school unless they were sick.

    I walked to school. When it came time to go to high school, I walked to the bus stop, and then walked from the bus stop to the school.

    I either packed my own lunch in my school bag, or I went hungry when I forgot it. I wasn't given money for food outside the classroom, or to buy the lunch at school because we didn't have facilities for such.

    I wasn't skinny, nor was I overweight. I was MOVING, and that was the big thing. I was appalled when I was listening to someone the other day talk about driving their kids to the bus stop. Excuse ME?? It's not that far from your house to the stop. Their excuse? It was raining. Poor baby...

    And you wonder where the problem lies? Try looking INSIDE the home instead of blaming the school for everything that's wrong.

    My two cents' worth. - 7/10/2010   1:16:30 AM
  • 81
    I get so tired of School Lunch Programs being responsible for childhood obesity. Children in some schools in this country have access to two meals per day, Breakfast and Lunch now where do you think children eat the majority of their meals? The School Lunch Program is a federally funded program and being such must adhere to USDA guidelines and regulation in order to receive reimburesement for meals served. With that being said, in order to receive federal dollars, School Lunch Programs across America must provide meals to students that meet USDA guidelines for Calorie, fat and saturated fat. 30% or less of calories from fat and 10% or less from Saturated fat. School foodservice professionals have the daunting task of planning menus that meet those requirement. The School Lunch Program is regulated, and audited for compliance. Students in a typical school lunch setting can choose what they have for lunch and Breakfast if a school offer vs serve. At any rate, meals can be prepared all day every day that meet requirement but, how can anyone regulate your child buying three cheeseburgers and two fries instead on one serving (even if the fries are oven baked and not fried). Yes, there are some school lunch programs out there that need improvement but when will parents take responsibility for their children? or better yet, when will parents teach their children some discipline and self control... and when you really look at it we are all on this website trying to loose weight because of the choices we have made, not because the school lunch was disgusting or unhealthy....let's be real! choices really are long lasting and life changing. We all must make better choices and teach our children to do the same. We must teach our children to be responsilble for what they eat. It's almost like saying well everything changed when they took prayer out of school....that's crazy! The school system is not responsible for teaching your child to pray or allowing him to pray or not pray, that can't be regulated....That's a parents responsibility to teach their children to pray, to give them a good firm Biblical foundation and instill in them christian values, not the school system. ooops! let me stop .....I'm really on my soap box now!
    Sorry, had to get that out of my system. I feel much better now. - 7/9/2010   11:52:50 PM
  • 80
    I believe it is a good start. In a way this program is informing their viewers (including parents) to at least be aware of what is happening. Who know maybe this will help parents to realize they should also change their home meals. This could be a start for parent to talk to their children about the right healthy food choices. - 7/9/2010   10:26:17 PM
  • 79
    I teach in a high poverty school where having the food in the house to pack a lunch is just not the reality for nearly half my kids. The lunches are nothing short of disgusting, and the kids eat them anyway because they're hungry. I think improving school lunch would go a long way toward helping the kids be healthier, and cutting the glycemic index would reduce the number of kids in a food coma the period after lunch. - 7/9/2010   7:42:22 PM
  • 78
    A change in school lunches would be HUGE, especially for families living in poverty. Children from poor families rely on school nutrition programs for discounted or free lunches (and often breakfast), and they are often the least healthy BECAUSE of inadequate nutrition both at home and at school. Providing these children with healthier meals would be a HUGE step forward in improving the health, academic performance, and fitness of children in poverty. - 7/9/2010   7:15:47 PM
  • 77
    I think a change in school lunches is a good thing. I teach at a middle school and I do not buy the school food. Especially since I started on here with Sparkpeople. Many of our students complain about the school food but since many of my students are on free and reduced lunch it is their only choice for a lunch and for some, their only meal that day. :( Our lunch issue is a big issue in our district and many of us have said that we would love for Jamie Oliver to come to our town and change things up.

    With that said, I do agree that we have to educate our parents and make healthy food affordable. When I teach the digestive system that is the first thing out of my students mouths that the healthy food (that some would eat) is more expensive than junk. Unfortunately for many of my kids, their parents need to be working bringing home a good check to possibly turn around how they eat at home and then onto school. - 7/9/2010   7:01:29 PM
  • 76
    I watched every episode of the Food Revolution and am completely on board with the program. The real shocker for me was how many children didn't even know what a potato was. He brought a "garden" into a classroom and the kids had a rough time naming the fresh fruits and vegetables. That is just sad. I was a fat kid and I vow never to let my kids get that way. I can see the argument that healthy eating begins at home, but if a kid is going to get one healthy meal a day then its a start. My suggestion to the school board is to incorporate nutrition education into physical education and make it everyday, not just two days a week. - 7/9/2010   6:41:00 PM
  • 75
    When I taught, and had lunchroom duty, I can honestly say I doubt very much what the kids ate contributed to obesity. Of course I retired in 1995, and things probably have changed.

    But I think it is what the kids eat at HOME, not at school that is causing the trouble . - 7/9/2010   6:17:51 PM
  • 74
    I live in a different town in WV. I don't see how one meal a day will make that big of an impact with most families. I volunteered in my girls' school and there were several heavy children there. They didn't get heavy from eating school lunches. They got that way from the food they were having at home. One healthy meal a day might make a smalll difference, but when the kids go home, they are eating junk anyway. This school was offering 2nds to the kids and it was mostly the over weight kids that were going back for the 2nds. It's actually a sad situation. I think there needs to be an educational program for the families through the school to show them how to make better choices. - 7/9/2010   6:04:12 PM
  • PRNCSJNSFALLOFF
    73
    I agree with what everyone had said, and would like to add that the kids and parents are bombarded with junk food commercials and clever placing in the stores, along with a fast food restaurant on every block!!! - 7/9/2010   5:45:03 PM
  • 72
    My home has always been a healthy place for my kids to eat. In 2nd grade my daughter's school mandated that school breakfast be served in the classroom. My daughter was not supposed to eat at school & her teacher knew this. They served her anyway because she asked for the junky foods they were serving. That year my daughter gained 20 pounds! It took me months to figure out what happened. I believe that if the food choices were healthy this would not have happened. One meal does make a difference. I believe that educating our educators, parents & kids along with healthy school meals is desperately needed in our country. I applaud Jamie Oliver's efforts to overhaul school food programs. How clever to bring this important issue to Americans where they're sitting-in front of their TV's! - 7/9/2010   5:43:41 PM
  • ELENAS_SEXY_MOM
    71
    At the school I teach at there is such little time for the kids to actually eat lunch that a lot of it just gets thrown in the garbage before they run out to recess. Yes, that one meal each day should be healthy and balanced, but kids need to be fed healthy food at home as well. While I know a lot of parents encourage healthy meals at home, there are still parents out there who feed their children convenient fast food multiple times per week. - 7/9/2010   5:28:47 PM
  • TAYATAGI
    70
    The parents "should" teach their children about nutrition but that assumes that parents already know everything. The general public doesn't know the first thing about nutrition. I think food should be taught in school as a subject. It's just as important as music, art, and gym. Or maybe combine phys ed and foods into one subject. - 7/9/2010   5:23:02 PM
  • 69
    I do believe a healthier choice of foods would be good but I believe you need to educate parents as well as the school kids.. eating healthier is good but if you have to go home and the foods being prepare is not healthy either then I do not believe it would solve the problem at all but it is a good idea to began somewhere? It will not change the obese problem we have here. I am not a good example either when my kids were growing up we ate the sweets,the sugar and the salt and so on now I try to eat better but my hubby would never eat the vegetalbes or the fruits needed he is a junky and he would not give them up or cut back either so that's how it goes! - 7/9/2010   4:32:44 PM
  • 68
    You are going to affect quite a few children regardless and the more children that are affected the more children that will follow. They learn from other children more than their parents. They do what other children do. They both need to be taught. The school system as well as the parents. - 7/9/2010   4:31:08 PM
  • 67
    A proper program would include improving school lunches as well as educating the parents. Starting when children are born to educate parents on good food that is not very expensive would be money and time well spent.

    As for school lunches, there are healthier ways to make many of the foods that kids love, while continuing to introduce more fruits, veggies and grains into their diet. - 7/9/2010   3:41:37 PM
  • 66
    Any changes would be an improvement. The "healthy" school lunches here in FL are so bad that the kids won't even eat them. They come home hungry every day. I don't understand how a reheated, processed, breaded chicken patty is considered healthy.
    They have been trying to make changes but it's only gotten worse. They are trying to use whole grains and more fruit and veggies, but as another post stated, with the budget cuts, they have to use the cheapest there is, which means poor quality and bad taste.
    Some charter schools have gone to hiring a kitchen manager, and the parents need to volunteer a certain amount of time every year to help staff the kitchen to feed all of the students. If this could be implemented on a larger scale, it could help cut down on the cost of staff, and the parents would be able to help prepare fresh foods for the kids, giving way to higher quality menu. Just a thought. - 7/9/2010   3:24:17 PM
  • 65
    I watched some of the television program in question and applaud Oliver's efforts to improve the nutritional quality of the lunches. I believe that the school has a responsibility in terms of education and care of our children to provided nutritional, wholesome foods that are also palatable. I DO NOT think they have the obligation or right to censor what types of lunches their parents provide them to bring to school. When it comes right down to it, you can provide all the education and information you want and parents and kids will ultimately do whatever suits them. But isn't that what personal responsibility is all about? - 7/9/2010   3:15:26 PM
  • AMARKMAN
    64
    As an educator of low-income students in elementary school, I have to say this issue is tough to take sides on. I do believe it's up to parents to teach healthy eating habits, but when you're money has to be spent to feed the whole family, you choose what is cheapest. Often times the chips are cheaper than a few apples and will last longer. Our schools do a decent job of feeding students healthy foods--we are lucky for that, but other schools aren't. Right now funding for education is so low that fresh fruits and veggies are not being served, it's all canned and frozen. As a society we have to understand that when we vote NO to funding our schools, we hurt a lot of things. We pay for our students education, meal time, and extra activities like P.E. Every time we vote not to add funding we are helping school boards choose to cut these programs, including how the food is purchased and delivered to the students. What we want for our children/students costs money that we as a society choose not pay for on a regular basis. I don't think that school districts are feeling as if they don't need to feed students healthy choices, it's a question of being able to pay to serve the right kinds of food that are healthy for the students. - 7/9/2010   3:01:59 PM
  • 63
    I think this type of program is a good idea. Even if the kids decide to go out and buy junk food before and after school, the school shouldn't promote that type of eating by serving it themselves. It is the responsibility of the school system to educate students, even in nutrition. What better way to teach, than to lead by example. I also agree that a big step in fighting childhood obesity would be to educate the parents. But most importantly, I think the vending machines need to be removed from schools. We had well over a dozen soda machines (I'm not even counting food vending machines) in my high school. There is no need for that. - 7/9/2010   2:56:09 PM
  • SUNSET09
    62
    We have to start from someone and yes, it's better than nothing at all. So many parens are responsible for the condition of children's health and weight due to fast food and giving in to the child instead of teaching them good eating habits as they don't practice good eating habits. So much is left up to the teachers and school system. Children should be taught to make healthy choices as well. - 7/9/2010   2:55:10 PM

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