Lunchroom changes are a good idea
I just read David Vogel’s column about “lunchroom politics” and felt the need to write this letter. In his column, David points out that the new dietary guidelines have been set at 850 calories per day for high school students.
He then goes on to point out how little the amount of food this would be using popular fast-food choices and criticizes the efforts to help the people who prepare school lunches make fruits and vegetables more appealing to children. I just need to make a couple of points here.
First, David’s picture looks like he is not likely to be a parent who has had to try to get a child to eat his vegetables or something other than dessert or junk food. Maybe I am wrong in assuming this, but those of us with kids know how challenging that can be. Every fast-food restaurant does research into packaging and marketing to appeal to their clients so why not make the foods in schools look as good as they can.
Personally, I would make it as easy as possible for those preparing the food rather than do time-intensive things for hundreds of servings, but I see no harm in calling peas something more fun if it helps get them eaten instead of thrown into the trash.
Second, setting limits on the calories that children eat at school will hopefully reduce the problem of childhood obesity. The CDC website states that 36 percent of adults and 17 percent of children are obese in this country. When you attend any public function in Marion County, I’m pretty sure we are keeping up with this statistic and this should scare people because with obesity follows high blood pressure and diabetes. Those diseases increase risk of strokes and heart attacks and dialysis and blindness.
In health care we are now being encouraged to test the cholesterol levels on children if they are overweight with any family history of high cholesterol or heart attacks. Lifestyle changes are definitely needed in this country! Why not start by offering healthy food at school?
So the next point to make is that there are a lot of other options to eat other than fast food. A visit to a local farmers market or even a grocery store would show you the abundance of choices we have available to eat. A person can eat a plate full of fruits and vegetables with some lean meat and a glass of milk and be full.
If you want volume of foods, then choose less junk and better nutritional quality. Hamburgers, french fries, pizza and tacos are all loaded with fat and calories no matter where they are served.
The intention of this policy was not to make our children go hungry—you can address the problems of hunger and poverty in general in another column—but to mandate that children eat something other than junk food in our school cafeterias. This is one of the few federal programs that might be a good idea.
Karen Wheeler, ARNP