Keeping Junk Food Out Of School
There is no doubt American children are gaining excessive amounts of weight. One of the sources of this weight gain, and controllable, is the school. Under such programs as the National Lunch Program (NLP) and free breakfast programs, children often receive their only main meal of the day at school. Arguably, this one should be nutritional and tasty. It would seem a no-brainer then, that schools, teachers, school boards and other parties would support such a measure. This is not the case.
Perceived problems with banning junk food
The major argument against banning junk food from schools is an economic one. No one rationally believes in the nutritional value of junk food. Everyone realizes it lives up to its name. The problem is the money to be gained by allowing junk food vendors and their products into the school. Many American schools are already strapped for cash and revenue from junk food (incl. from vending machines) helps support the school.
Including the questionable food as options in the cafeteria or lunchroom is another way of making or saving money. Some of the changes suggested by the Obama administration and state legislation proposals are expensive. Some schools simply feel they cannot afford the more nutritional meals. It would mean the required money would require diversion from somewhere else.
Another argument supporting junk food is “it’s the parents’ job.” There are valid concerns the parents will not reinforce what children learn at school. This argument perceives children eating healthy at school and junking out at home. It considers the forced feeding of nutrition a lost cause in face of the external environmental factors.
Why ban junk food
Approximately 1 child in 5 in the United States is obese. The figures vary from state-to-state. The state average in Massachusetts, for example is 34%. There is a need to ban junk food to reduce the incurred health costs. The medical professions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) have co-related statistically the relationship between increasing health costs and obesity. Obesity is also tied to increased morbidity.
It is important to establish a pattern of healthy eating at an early age. Even if the children do not receive adequate nutritious food at home, they could do so at school. Moreover, it provides the child with the information to make an informed choice, if not now at a later date.
While several states have introduced a nutritional and physical activity plan or program, many are slow to adopt it. Some, such as California, have approved of the removal of junk food in elementary and middle schools but not in high schools. There is a growing movement to help improve the eating habits of American children. If done correctly, it will help instill eating habits viable for a lifetime.
Sources: Parents Against Junk Food, parents.com, Opposing views