(NaturalNews) More and more kids today are eating diets high in fat, calories and sugar and low in nutritious, low calorie fruits and vegetables. One to two meals are eaten at school plus a snack, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for students to make healthy food choices. With schools providing many foods that are processed and with the marketing materials that bombard kids, it is much easier to choose a high calorie, high fat option than something that is full of nutrition and low in calories. In the last thirty years, childhood obesity has tripled. Twenty percent of children between ages six and eleven are obese. These kids are not just a few pounds overweight. This means that their weight is more likely to cause lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol at very young ages.
In addition, schools are facing continuous cuts in their budgets, and many have looked at outside marketing as sources of revenue for programs that they would otherwise have to cut. Many of these schools do not have restrictions on the type of marketing that can take place. According to 'Reading, Writing and Raisinets: Are School Finances Contributing to Children's Obesity', financially strapped schools are allowing food and beverage advertising to students and are allowing "pouring" rights contracts with beverage vendors. This allows a vendor to have exclusivity for distribution and advertising rights on campus and at sporting events.
It is not difficult to understand why our children are gaining weight when you look at the food options available to them. Schools are adding more processed foods to their menus while eliminating fresh foods. Processed foods are less expensive and have a longer shelf life. A typical breakfast at a high school in the United States is a sausage link with blueberry pancakes, sausage egg and cheese biscuits, cereal, yogurt, packaged donuts or packaged muffins. A typical lunch is pizza, chicken nuggets, chips, hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries, which are served daily. Vegetables that alternate depending on availability are mashed potatoes, corn, broccoli, salad, carrots and green beans. Fruit servings are minimal and consist of pears or peaches with whip cream on them. Ice cream, pop-sickles or rice crispy treats are served for desert. Many of these foods are high in calories, fats and sugar while containing little nutritious value.
To assist a student's learning process, the foods eaten should fuel the body, not cause it to be sluggish or foggy minded. These foods affect the student's cognitive, attention and memory skills. It is important that the foods they eat help them learn and not deter from it. Serving fresh food is more expensive and does take more time to prepare. However, if schools do not change what they are doing, it is going to cost society much more in medical costs to treat the diseases that are occurring because of obesity.
Sources: Molnar A, Garcia DR, Boninger F, Merrill B. A National Survey of the Types and Extent of the Marketing of Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value in Schools. Tempe, AZ: Commercialism in Research Unit, 2006.
Traci Brosman is co-founder of World Wellness Education, owner of Coaching to Success, a professional speaker and author. She is also a local television and radio host. Believing in the value of doing what it takes to improve her life and the lives of those she meets, Traci thoroughly enjoys her work with World Wellness Education and Coaching to Success. “I love the fact that I get to connect with so many professionals on what it means to be healthy — body, mind and spirit. Then I get to take this information and share it with the world. It is wonderful to be able to do the things I love and then give back to others what I learn.” Brosman is dedicated to encouraging and inspiring others with honesty and integrity. http://www.worldwellnesseducation.org