Children's Eating Habits in France vs. United States

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Children's Eating Habits in France vs. United States

The way children eat is very different in every country. They are the most different in France and the United States. From children's lunch at school to dinner at home, they're diverse. Even the way they take their meals at home and how much they cost are unalike. It's not arguable that the United States is an unhealthy country, unlike France where good eating habits are learned very early in life and are practiced throughout life.

In the United States the daily public school lunch consists of pizza, cheese burgers, Chef Boyardee ravioli, fried chicken fingers, French fries and it gets worse. Most American students hate the lunch that their school provides, which means as soon as they are able to drive, they leave school and go to the nearest fast food restaurant. "Critics say that school lunches contribute to the fattening of the United States." (5) The most controversial argument about US school lunches happened when "David Stockman, Reagan's budget director, proposed classifying ketchup as a vegetable to meet dietary requirements while also slashing costs." (5) Honestly, what's next? American school lunches have to meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines, which obviously is not good enough considering "30% of individuals calories come from fat, and 10% from saturated fat." (5)

School lunches are so much more different in France. "Many schools already employ their own nutritionist, who works with a parents' committee to ensure lunches provide a healthy, balanced diet." (5) "A typical schools lunch in France cost anywhere from E1.50 to E4 a head, depending on region. Poorer parents only pay a small portion of that total." (5) What we in America serve our children the French consider adult meals, as the French believe good eating habits start early in life. A French school lunch consists of "a starter of grapefruit, followed by grilled chicken with green beans, then a cheese course and rice pudding for dessert. The day's snack is a tangerine. Once a week chips are on offer but with salmon lasagna, rather than sausage or burgers, while Thursday's pizza is served with a healthy green salad." (5) Children are not aloud pop or soda of any kind; they eat all of their school meals with plain water. Vending machines are banned in all primary schools and will be banned from secondary schools in September of this year.

The French have not changed their eating habits in the past ten years. According to a recent survey "French eating habits are still very closely linked to their national heritage of eating good food for pleasure." (4) Even though they don't change the way they eat, the French are receptive to new ideas and trends. In comparison to Americans, "76% of French people eat meals they have prepared at home, though the younger generation of singles between the ages of 18 and 29 buy convenience foods." (4) In France the favorite place to eat both lunch and dinner is in their own home. "75% of the French eat at the family table." (4) Without any effort, French meals are well balanced. A typical home cooked meal for the French consists of: "a starter and main dish with vegetables and meat followed by cheese and fruit for dessert." (4)

Americans tend to do things different. Some families follow a traditional home cooked meal once in a great while. Poverty has a lot to do with why so many children grow up on bad eating habits. "Malnutrition can have a devastating effect on motor development in the preschool years. Protein energy malnutrition affects approximately half of the world's children." (6) Low income families tend to eat more unhealthy foods due to the cost of expensive foods. Since Americans tend to be fast paced and always on the go, we eat a lot more fast food such as McDonald's and Burger King.

In America we have a food guide pyramid that we are supposed to follow. It tells us how many serving we...
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