Daily Archives: June 9, 2010

Saving America’s kids…one salad at a time

While I’m usually not a big fan of The Economist…D suggested yesterday that I peruse if for an article on “nutrition stuff…in schools”.  So, I warily opened it up and found a particularly interesting article on the National School Lunch Program and the recent passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  This bill provides $4.5 billion for children’s nutrition — allowing more poor children to enroll in the School Lunch program as well as making lunches healthier (see ya later trans fat french fries..).  But perhaps the most alarming aspect of the entire article was this little segment:

“One in three American children is overweight or obese.  Obesity is even affecting national security: a recent report estimates that 27% of Americans of recruitment age are “too fat to fight”.”

Excuse me??  TOO FAT TO FIGHT?!  I mean that has got to be some sort of joke right?  That is just downright embarassing as an American to hear.

But the article also got me to thinking a little bit about childhood obesity and school lunches.  Is it really enough to provide healthier school lunches if kids are going home to be served up places of fried chicken for dinner?  What about breakfast?  Some of these children will not even get a breakfast in the morning, or if they do it will be some sort of sugar-coated cereal with barely any nutrients to speak of.  Not only does this harm children’s mental and physical development, it sets these kids up for a lifetime of health problems — and not just obesity.

It’s easy for those of us who can afford to buy fresh produce and healthy products to say that those living in inner cities need to start doing that too.  But the honest truth is that fresh produce is expensive.  Fast food is cheap and quick.  So if you had five bucks for dinner…would you spend it on a couple of different veggies or a full meal at McDonalds?  I think it is a great thing that the Obama administration has asked corporations such as Kellogg’s, Mars and PepsiCo to cut calories from their products, and that this bill has been passed to give more money to the National School Lunch program.  But I think there is a much larger issue at play here: How do we as a nation change a culture of fat into a culture of fit?

What do you think?