Just as we have theorized that education prevents the spread of racism, sexism, and other prejudices, we are now speculating that education would actually prevent the spread of obesity. This could be partly theorized because schools are now trying to provide healthy lunches, which may be the only healthy meal that children get. But at least in recent school years, they still provide unhealthy options, which kids often choose. They are cutting costs, and have been cutting costs for years, at the student’s expense. According to the centers for Disease Control, 15% of children and adolescents now suffer from obesity, leading to the “big killers” such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Poor diet and lack of proper activity levels are now leading to 300,000 deaths a year, second only to cigarettes. It has come to the point where children may suffer a shorter lifespan than their parents rather than an increased lifespan due to greater innovations in medicine.
At this point, a Food Service Manager at each school is designated to plan the school menus, apparently based on the current USDA standards and regulations. They are charged with creating meals that are appealing to school children, in the budget, and within certain health requirements. This can as I stated before, be frustrated with a budget crunch, and it can be increasingly demanding for many. Schools are blaming it on this, but they have really been cutting budgets like this for years, for example replacing salad bars that children flocked to with prepackaged and sometimes not exactly fresh pre-packaged salads, often leading to children changing to the pizza or fry options instead.
Schools are supposed to encourage for example the eating of cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, fruits and vegetables in general. But at the same time, many schools are providing the options of potato chips, candy, soda, and other junk food whether through teachers or vending machines. The National School Lunch Program has now required that each lunch consist of 2 oz of protein, 1-2 servings of grain, ¾ cups of fruits and vegetables, and eight ounces of milk. This could be a hamburger with bun, oven fries, an apple sauce, and a milk. This doesn’t exactly sound like the healthy meal one might imagine.
Many are now depending on schools to educate their children in terms of what a healthy meal is through health classes and school lunches that supposedly provide a certain standard. But the fact is that parents are still largely responsible for teaching children about healthy diets, perhaps healthier diets than they had as children, and schools aren’t necessarily providing healthy meals, just those that meet a certain standard set apart.