Running Head: SCHOOL LUNCHES IN THE UNITED STATES AND CHILDHOOD OBESITY 1
School Lunches and Childhood Obesity 7
School Lunches in the United States and Childhood Obesity
SUNY Empire State College
Childhood obesity has increased at an alarming rate in the United States within the last several decades. While there are many contributing factors to this nationwide, one of more startling contributions are the lunches being served in school cafeterias. Sadly, this is a result of low district budgets and convince of meal preparations. Many school lunches consist of processed foods that are high in preservatives and low in nutrients. It is unfortunate that school budgets are not as health conscious as other nations like France and Japan. It is important that public schools break the mold of the stereotypical pizza and hot dogs and offer our children a more balanced, nutritious diet.
Budgets and School Lunches
In the United Stated, public school meal programs are largely funded by the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The budget provided to each district is dependent upon the poverty rate in which the school resides. This unfortunately does play a role in cafeteria staff and supplies. According to Georgetown (2015), “ A food services director in North Syracuse, New York says that after the costs of labor, she is left with just 15 cents per lunch to buy ingredients, repair equipment, and equip cafeterias”. Sadly, this means many school districts will cut costs where they can, resulting in meals with a low nutritional value. Perhaps it is time for government funding agencies like NSLP to reevaluate their contributions and provide school districts with the necessary funds to supply children with the proper nutrients they need to thrive.
School Lunches and Childhood Obesity
Schools are responsible for providing children with the environment, role models and resources they need to be successful. This idea however is not always met in today’s school cafeterias. In many districts, especially those of a low income, students who regularly eat food provided in the cafeteria are met with few healthy options that are often surrounded by a vast array of foods high in high processed sugars, saturated fats and carbohydrates (Liou, Yang, Wang & Huang 2015). While these options not only promote a poor diet, they can often lead to feelings of sluggishness and fatigue after consumption. It’s been argued that schools should not be the focus of the childhood obesity epidemic. However, studies show that sixteen percent of children ages 6-19 are classified as obese, and because children spend a considerable portion of their day in school, and consume roughly one-third to one-half of their daily calories there, schools are definitely a large factor (Whitmore, 2009). It is imperative that children are provided with a larger selection of healthy food options that are dense in nutrients including proteins, complex carbohydrat...