With the increase of childhood obesity and diabetes being diagnosed in young children, officials are turning towards public schools for the solution. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 17% of children aged 2-19 are obese. That’s roughly 12.5 million kids in America. Many think that schools should ban the sale of unhealthy food in its cafeterias and vending machines. Their thought is that if students don’t have the option to buy junk foods and are not surrounded by it all day while in school, they will stay away them and the generation as a whole will take a step towards becoming healthier. So the question remains, should schools ban the sales of unhealthy food in their cafeterias?
While I agree that schools should limit the amount of junk food available and switch to healthier alternatives, I think that there’s more to it.
Children need to be taught in school about the importance of healthy eating and the effects of junk food to their health; now and for the future. It is not enough to simply take away the foods they have been eating their entire life without explaining why.
“If children don’t have healthy diets at home, then school would be the one place where they receive a nutritious meal. Many families don’t include fruits and vegetables with their meals, so being exposed to them at school will hopefully help them include healthy food in the future,” said Laura McGinn, a Registered Dietitian.
Our youngest generation has grown up surrounded with fast food options and aisles upon aisles of junk foods in grocery stores. Schools need to focus on teaching nutrition and healthy lifestyle classes so that kids can be informed about why certain foods are not good for them and what they can do to improve their eating habits. In addition, these students will go home with this information and hopefully help influence the rest of their family to eat healthier. Kids need to be able to recognize which foods are healthy and which are not. From there, they need to be able to make smart choices about their meals on their own.
Schools shouldn’t force the students into taking the healthy options. Every day in the lunch room, I notice that kids are forced to take a side of fruit, and it almost always goes to waste and gets thrown away. Not only is that a complete waste of food, but the students don’t understand why they are being forced to take that apple or banana. Kids need to be learning about healthy eating, putting what they learned to use in school, and to follow these guidelines throughout their lives. Schools should not ban certain foods from their cafeteria without teaching the children why they were removed and about the importance of eating right.
For more information regarding healthy eating, visit choosemyplate.gov.