New federal laws, designed to create healthier public school lunches, took effect on October 1. The new guidelines are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The initiative aims to combat childhood obesity by focusing on the lunchroom - increasing the servings of fruits and vegetables, limiting carbohydrates and serving meals that contain a reduced number of calories. For example, high school lunches should now contain 750-850 calories. The guidelines, particularly the calorie restrictions, have elicited passionate reactions from students and parents.
Hungry Kids Respond.
One of the more creative responses, garnering almost 1 million online views, is from high school students in Kansas who posted a YouTube parody video titled "We Are Hungry." The video shows athletes passing out on a football field and students finding ways to sneak food. This inventive response to the new regulations, from the young people it directly affects, is the focus of many news stories about the new guidelines.
Are They, Perhaps, Missing the Point?
There is no denying that childhood obesity is indeed an epidemic and a pressing public health issue. According to the American Heart Association, one-in-three American kids and teens are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is also a pressing issue on a global scale - with 1-in-10 children globally being obese. GLOBALHealthPR recently did a study of the global conversation online about childhood obesity. The results highlighted an alarming trend – the global online dialogue about this issue falls very short. Feel free to view the infographic and get a taste (pun intended) of our insights.
A Step in the Right Direction.
Most school (and home) meals are not made in-house, from scratch, with the time and attention to ingredients and nutrition that signal to kids it is a priority. It is important to applaud the fact that something is being done at a nationwide level to promote healthy eating and help young people be more mindful about nutrition. Whether you fully support or view the new guidelines as an infringement on your right to eat what you want, it is ultimately a step in the right direction to see new programs put into practice. That said, until we can address the way that many children and adults think about and interact with food, we are still going to have a big problem on our hands.
I mentioned that childhood obesity is a global problem, and there are some countries that take a progressive, yet very traditional approach. This CBS segment demonstrates how the French approach school lunches. To sum it up, it’s about the food. Novel idea, no?