Affects of School Lunch Programs on Childhood Obesity

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Affects of School Lunch Programs on Childhood Obesity
ENG122: English Composition II
Instructor: Victoria Stamm
October 17, 2011
Ashley University

Affects of School Lunch Programs on Childhood Obesity
In today's society it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day duties of life; people often forget that their eating habits could be the death of them. The children of today are the children of the future, therefore raising them to make healthy eating choices in their childhood could prevent them from becoming part of the 20 percent of children that are obese. Over the past 30 years childhood obesity has more than tripled in the United States. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, obesity in children is one of the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat. Due to a poor diet and lack of exercise children can run the dangerous risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes which go hand and hand with severely overweight children. Kids who are unhappy with their weight may also be more likely to develop eating disorders. Diagnosing and treating overweight and obesity in children as early as possible may reduce the risk of developing serious medical conditions. In the United States alone, over 300,000 deaths each year can be attributed to this disease (American Academy of Child, 2008). In 2005 a study found that children today may lead shorter lives by two to five years than their parents due to obesity (USA Today, 2011). Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise both at home and in school. Schools are a major cause of child obesity becoming an epidemic and it is time to take a closer look at how childhood obesity and the school system can be directly related. Removing nutrition in school lunches, lack of education toward healthier lives and placing a ban on physical activity is not the way to show progress.

Students attend school on average, seven hours a day and often are giving the option for breakfast and lunch meals. With dramatic increases in childhood obesity schools are doing their best to ensure that only nutritious foods and beverages are provided in school cafeterias, vending machines, snack bars, school stores, and other venues that offer food and beverages to students. However, a study shows that more than 1,000 sixth graders throughout southeastern Michigan found that those who regularly had school lunch were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home (New York Times, 2011). Schools are meant to educate youth not just in core subjects but also to give them the tools to make a bright choice for a healthy future. The government has stated to make a dramatic change in school meals and begin to offer students more fruits and vegetables. “Most school lunches rely heavily on high-energy, low-nutrient-value food, because it’s cheaper,” said Dr. Kim A. Eagle, director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center. In January 2011 the U.S. Department of Agriculture purposed that school lunch programs raise the nutrition standards for meals for the first time in 15 years (USA Today, 2011). Schools claim they play a critical role in improving physical activity and dietary behaviors of children by creating environments supportive of students' efforts to eat healthy and be active. So why has it taken them 15 years to change their policy and 20 percent of children to suffer from obesity. Ask yourself this, are schools contributing to childhood obesity? Knowing that children spend more time in school then home could they have helped to prevent the growth of childhood obesity in the United States?

Each school day approximately 28 million school-aged children participate in the National school lunch program and eight million participate in the School...
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