First Lady’s Cause

From HuffPo:

To borrow a line from Kermit the frog, it’s not easy being green — or, eating green.

America is the fattest country in the world, and only ranks second to Greece in the proportion of children who are overweight, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. While obesity rates have slowed or stabled in other countries, larger increases were recorded in the United States, alongside Canada and Ireland.

In America, 17 percent — or 12.5 million – of children aged 2-19 are obese, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 16 percent or so are overweight and at risk of becoming obese.

Experts point to a culture of high fat and low quality, low nutrition eating – combined with minimal physical activity — as the main culprit. The OECD has called for a shift in habits and increased education in health and nutrition.

But is it where that education is supposed to be occurring — in schools — in part to blame? While schools can’t control what students eat off campus, they can affect what’s being served to children on school grounds, and educate students to prepare them for a lifetime of healthy habits, advocates have said….

It also doesn’t help when students across the country are waging war against the first lady. Teens from Kansas to Wisconsin have staged protests against the new school lunches, launching Twitter campaigns,boycotting cafeteria meals and filming videos in hopes of bringing widespread attention to their cause: the new rules are too restrictive, leaving kids hungry. Growing adolescents, teens say, require more calories because they’re burning more through sports and other activities.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that more than a third of high school students were eating vegetables less than once a day –“considerably below” recommended levels of intake for a healthy lifestyle that supports weight management and could reduce risks for chronic diseases and some cancers.

Students are simultaneously throwing away twice as much food from school meals as they did last year, according to ABC News, and Kristi King, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells the network that the whole grain and fiber-robust new lunches should actually keep students fuller than before, “if they are actually consuming the whole product.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Ray

    As I am now in my late 20s and understand nutrition more, I applaud the First Lady’s efforts and support her in her quest. However, not being that far removed from my teenage years (or college for that matter), I remember my eating habits then and am not surprised by the opposition from the students. I think elementary and pre-k is the place to start engraining healthy eating habits early. Hopefully, these programs will last.

    Ray

  • Joe Canner

    According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2012/rwjf401163), local jurisdictions that are making concerted efforts to change school cafeteria offerings and improve nutrition education are actually seeing small improvements in childhood obesity rates.

  • Mikki Peterson

    Although we ate somewhat healthier when I was growing up, I think the lack of activity contributes as much to the obesity crisis. I grew up on the north side of Chicago (near Wrigley Field) and in nice weather Mom told us to be outside and we were out from morning until dinner time around 5 – and after that until the street lights came on. It was a different world and we had so much freedom to walk back and forth to Lake Michigan beaches daily. A lot of parents are afraid of assault and kidnapping so you don’t see many children playing – or walking (even to school) much. Yes video games are a part of the inactivity picture but truthfully I think kids turn to games because they can’t go out – either there isn’t a parent home – or there is fear for the children’s safety.

  • Shawn Garan

    Remember the movie Wall-E where everyone was sitting in those hovering chairs on that ship?

    I didnt really think it was all that bad. :)

  • Robin

    I have been following this a little and there are two important things not really discussed in this snippet.

    (1) school meals have gotten much worse tasting. I’m not saying they were good before, but apparently as a result of the new initiatives the taste of the foods has deteriorated notably.

    (2) the schools that have been discussed recently have apparently instituted strict caloric maximums, based on recommended daily allowances. So, for example, lunch might be limited to 600 calories and no allowances are given for special circumstances.

    This might work well for some students, treating them all as average, but it is terrible for students who don’t leave the grounds at 3 pm. Articles in the fall discussed football players who arrived at school to workout at 6 AM or stayed after for football practice until 5 or 6 pm. Those students had no alternative sources of calories despite the fact they wouldn’t get to sit down to dinner until 6 or 7 pm, and caloric allowances were not adjusted to deal with the fact that they had to endure a 2 or 3 hour practice on empty stomachs.

    I understand the initiative behind the first lady, but children, and children’s lives are too variable for the one-size-fits-all approach that districts have been using.

  • Patrick

    She’ll fail at her quest. We’re fat for a few reasons and at least 1 is societal and isn’t going to get better anytime soon in our culture.

    We might ought to go ahead and start a huge medical program “DiabetesCare”. We can argue the details later.


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