Parents would prefer to hear their children
are healthy rather than the evil f-word: fat.
The ill-fated word can be avoided and school districts are taking the initiative to do this, starting in the cafeteria.
Cafeteria menus are being revamped in the name of good health and preventing obesity.
Therefore, kids should not expect to revel in a sugar-holic’s glory when they arrive for lunch.
It’s all about healthy choices and a nutrition policy that works effectively. To tackle the challenges posed by the obesity epidemic in the United States, Congress authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish the Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases.
They are creating a united front against this pressing problem that has become a life and death situation. Through this legislation, awareness and parental action, we can all have a hand in reversing
the trend of childhood obesity.
More states are enacting nutrition standards to ensure that healthy food and beverage options are available to students. These are steps in the right direction for an overall healthy lifestyle for students.
According to a report in the “Houston Chronicle,” “a 2004 wellness program mandates school districts to receive federal reimbursements for school meal programs that develop policies promoting the health of students and recognize the increasing problem of childhood obesity.”
In 2005, at least 17 states enacted some form of school nutrition legislation and at least 11 more approved them last year. A smart move for all other states would be to follow suit. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, and the trend can be nipped in the bud. Obesity can lead to a number of diseases including stroke, cardiovascular disease, hypertension,
diabetes and some cancers.
These children shouldn’t be subjected to these diseases when they don’t have to be.A New Jersey law requires that snacks and a la carte items served in school cafeterias contain no more than 8 grams of total fat per serving and 2 grams of saturated fat by next fall.
Candy is banned and so are foods and beverages with sugar as the major ingredient. Fried foods are also getting chucked, being replaced by healthier baked choices.
Furman McGill, cafeteria supervisor at Tanner G. Duckrey Elementary School in North Philadelphia, said the school’s cafeteria has undergone menu changes in the last two to three years.
“[If] we do sell snacks, they are baked goods, baked potato chips – no fried foods at all. No soda at all,” he said, adding that all Philadelphia schools are practicing this.
The American Obesity Association cites “obesity in children and adolescents is a serious issue with many health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood.” The organization believes that implementing prevention programs and gaining a better understanding of treatment for youngsters is important to controlling the obesity epidemic.
These new menu programs are a prevention
tool to slow the obesity epidemic. These menus are lifestyle changes and it is not just about getting rid of junk food just because the doctor said so.
It is about eradicating habits that can catapult young people into an early grave. No child should be subject to that.
Second and final part in a 2-part series.
Dashira Harris can be reached at