Can School Lunches Contribute to Obesity?
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowLunch
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How do you feel about the lunch program at your school? Does the school cafeteria provide students with a healthy lunch? If you don’t eat lunch from your school cafeteria, do you have a balanced and healthy diet? Take a photo of your school lunch and share it with us.
California’s San Joaquin Valley is the country’s most productive farm belt: its fertile orchards and fields generate most of the nation’s fresh fruit and nuts. Yet for the people who work and live near these farms, access to healthy and fresh food can be a daily struggle.
The town of Ceres, near Modesto, is like many small towns in the San Joaquin Valley. The farmworkers who pick the fruits, nuts and vegetables or work in the canneries often don’t have convenient ways to buy the produce they harvest. The lower-income side of town doesn’t have a grocery store, but there’s plenty of fast food. Residents say the tap water is cloudy and smells funny. At the convenience store, bottled soda is cheaper than bottled water.
An estimated one in three children in the Central Valley in California lives in a home that experiences “food insecurity” – not knowing where their next meal is coming from. School meals are an important way to give children the nutrition they need, but Central Valley school districts struggle to source healthy, local food to help combat childhood obesity.
The issue of childhood obesity is commonly referred to as a national epidemic. According to the American Heart Association, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects: Obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression. And excess weight at young ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood.
The Office of the Surgeon General states in The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation that healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing obesity related diseases. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website states that schools play a particularly critical role by establishing a safe and supportive environment with policies and practices that support healthy behaviors. Schools also provide opportunities for students to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.
Federal regulations limit fat to 30 percent of lunch calories, but hundreds of school districts have fed children fattening, salty and nutritionally deficient meals and face infrequent oversight. A CIR analysis shows 60 percent of the school lunches reviewed by the state in the past five years failed to meet at least one federal nutritional requirement.
Congress created the National School Lunch Program (could be a bad link due to the Federal Government shutdown) in 1946 to address malnutrition in schools while dealing with agriculture surpluses. The $10.8 billion program serves about 32 million lunches a year, nearly two-thirds of which are provided free or at a reduced price to low-income students.
To receive federal funding, schools are required to meet nutritional benchmarks, including limiting fats and serving enough calories. Does your school meet these nutritional requirements?
KQED News video Hunger in Valley of Plenty: What’s for Lunch? – Oct. 8, 2013
An estimated one in three children in the Central Valley lives in a home that experiences “food insecurity” – not knowing where their next meal is coming from. School meals are an important way to give children the nutrition they need, but Central Valley school districts struggle to source healthy, local food and combat childhood obesity. About the project: “Hunger in the Valley of Plenty” is the seventh special to come out of KQED and CIR’s multimedia partnership.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowLunch
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
KQED Forum episode Is Obesity A Disease?
The American Medical Association decided recently to classify obesity as a disease. Their decision has drawn controversy: Supporters say the label could spur health insurers and the government to fund anti-obesity services. But opponents say obesity is a risk factor, and calling it a “disease” further stigmatizes overweight people. We discuss the controversy. This is an hour long program, but scroll down to view the show highlights.
New York Times post New Rules for School Meals Aim at Reducing Obesity
Hoping to combat the growing problem of childhood obesity, the Obama administration on Wednesday announced its long-awaited changes to government-subsidized school meals, a final round of rules that adds more fruits and green vegetables to breakfasts and lunches and reduces the amount of salt and fat.
KQED’s The Lowdown post Infographic: What Does it Mean to Be Poor in America?
Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau released a series of 2012 income data for American households. The figures shows that despite the nation’s supposed economic recovery, average American household incomes didn’t really budge from where they were the year before. Meanwhile, the poverty rate remained at roughly the same level as it was in 2011 as well.
KQED QUEST video Childhood Obesity: Kids Fight Back
One in six kids in the United States is obese, a condition that doubles their risk of heart disease. Castro Valley teenager Lorena Ramos has been overweight since she was a small child. Now, with the help of her mother and the Healthy Hearts clinic at Children’s Hospital Oakland, she’s fighting to exercise, eat healthily and drop weight. Will she succeed? Watch our story to find out.