The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. Ron Nixon reports in the New York Times article, New Guidelines Planned on School Vending Machines:
The government’s attempt to reduce childhood obesity is moving from the school cafeteria to the vending machines.
The Obama administration is working on setting nutritional standards for foods that children can buy outside the cafeteria. With students eating 19 percent to 50 percent of their daily food at school, the administration says it wants to ensure that what they eat contributes to good health and smaller waistlines. The proposed rules are expected within the next few weeks.
Efforts to restrict the food that schoolchildren eat outside the lunchroom have long been controversial.
Representatives of the food and beverage industries argue that many of their products contribute to good nutrition and should not be banned. Schools say that overly restrictive rules, which could include banning the candy sold for school fund-raisers, risk the loss of substantial revenue that helps pay for sports, music and arts programs. A study by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that about $2.3 billion worth of snack foods and beverages are sold annually in schools nationwide.
Nutritionists say that school vending machines stocked with potato chips, cookies and sugary soft drinks contribute to childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in every five children are obese.
No details of the proposed guidelines have been released, but health advocates and snack food and soft drink industry representatives predict that the rules will be similar to those for the government’s school lunch program, which reduced amounts of sugar, salt and fat…..
But a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine released this month shows that despite industry efforts and those of others, snacking behavior among children remains largely unchanged. One reason is that healthier snacks were being offered alongside less nutritious offerings.
Between 2006 and 2010, the study found, about half of the schools had vending machines, stores and cafeterias that offered unhealthy foods.
The availability of high-fat foods in schools followed regional patterns. In the South, where rates of childhood obesity are the highest, less nutritious food was more prevalent. In the West, where childhood obesity rates are lower, high-fat food was not as common, the study found.
Health advocates say the study points to the need for national standards.
There have been studies about the effect of vending machine snacking and childhood obesity.
Katy Waldman wrote the Slate article, Do Vending Machines Affect Student Obesity?
Despite all the recent handwringing (even pearl clutching) over junk food in schools, a study out this month in the quarterly Sociology of Education found no link between student obesity rates and the school-wide sale of candy, chips, or sugary soda. The finding undermines efforts by policy makers to trim kids’ waistlines by banning snacks from the classroom. And it must taste odd to the many doctors and scientists who see vending machines as accessories in the childhood obesity epidemic.
The study followed 19,450 fifth graders of both sexes for four years. At the beginning, 59 percent of the students went to schools that sold “competitive foods”—that is, non-cafeteria fare not reimbursable through federal meal programs. CFs tend to have higher sugar or fat content and lower nutritional value (think the indulgences at the top of the food pyramid, like Coke and Oreos). By the time the students reached eighth grade, 86 percent of them attended schools that sold competitive foods. The researchers, led by Pennsylvania State University’s Jennifer Van Hook, then compared body mass indexes from the 19,450 students, including those who’d spent all four years in junk food-free environments, those who’d left such schools for vending machine-friendly ones, those who’d transferred from vending machine-friendly schools to junk food-free schools, and those who enjoyed access to vending machines for all four years. Regardless of which data sets they contrasted, the researchers were unable to find any sort of connection between obesity and the availability of “unhealthy” snacks in school. In other words, children who could theoretically grab a Snickers bar after class every day for four years were, on average, no heavier than those who couldn’t.
While Van Hook speculated to the New York Times that the findings reflect our tendency to “establish food preferences… early in life,” she also noted in her paper that middle schoolers’ regimented schedules could prevent them from doing much unsupervised eating. (I guess that means that the students didn’t have time to utilize the junk food options they had, which is an issue for another day). In any case, the takeaway is clear. You can’t solve childhood obesity by outlawing vending machines. The obesity epidemic (if it is one) depends on a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. Maybe a full-court press of school regulations plus zoning laws that encourage supermarkets to come to poor neighborhoods plus government subsidies for fruits and veggies plus crackdowns on fast food advertising plus fifty other adjustments would begin to make a dent in the problem. (Maybe a saner cultural attitude towards food, weight, and looks in general would also help).
See, Rising Childhood Obesity and Vending Machines http://www.medicaladvices.net/Child_Health/rising-childhood-obesity-and-vending-machines-a14.html
The issue of childhood obesity is complicated and there are probably many factors. If a child’s family does not model healthy eating habits, it probably will be difficult to change the food preferences of the child. Our goal as a society should be:
A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©
New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/
Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/
Dr. Wilda says this about that ©