Sunday, July 12, 2009

Changing school lunch

Our National School Lunch Program is in trouble. Tight budgets and little oversight result in schools serving low-cost, often unhealthy foods to students. Historically school nutrition rules enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture requires schools to provide a certain number of foods from particular food groups but guidelines beyond these do not exist. The rules require schools serve at least two servings of fruits and vegetables at every meal, but catsup and high fructose corn syrup laden apple juice satisfy these requirements despite their lack of overall nutrients. Costs often dictate schools meet this requirement by using cheap, canned or processed foods. Some schools participating in the federal food program tailor their menus using commodity foods which are free or very low cost. Beef and bulk processed cheese are added to menus to keep costs under $1.00 a student. Since schools are place where children learn to eat, we can change what we serve to model good eating habits.

With the increased incidence of overweight and obese children and adults in America it is time we make these changes. Offering healthier foods, growing and eating foods from school gardens and experimenting with more health-conscious preparation methods requires effort and support from parents, school administrators and state and federal governments. Districts can participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which helps schools buy fresh produce and take advantage of the healthier commodities while purchasing more fresh fruit and vegetables. This may require a financial investment but it absolutely requires district commitment to children, health outcomes and the development of long term healthy habits.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

School lunch offers opportunity to learn

Eating habits are a learned behavior and we can learn to eat well or eat poorly. Our schools have the unique ability to model wellness and good eating habits while teaching science and enhancing the standard curriculum. Schools also have the opportunity to teach students to eat fast food, drink soda, and sports drink, eat cake like muffins and sugar cereal for breakfast and they do. Except for the current ban on sodas in schools; school breakfast and lunch expose children to high fat, high sugar foods teaching them to eat poorly, in a hurry and without alternatives. Change school lunch; change the American waist line measurement.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kesslers's campaign

Dr. David Kessler writes about our drive to overeat and the mechanisms that encourage the behavior in his new book entitled, "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite."
See the article in the Wall Street Journal.
We eat and continue to crave high fat, high sugar salty foods even when we are full. Kesseler asks why and investigates how to overcome these urges?
Kessler holds the food industry responsible but conceeds that The food industry gives consumers exactly what we want. Processed foods are designed as highly stimulating products, encouraging us as consumers to ask for more. High fat, highly salted and sugary foods stimulate the reward centers in our brains. To overcome the stimuli we must replace one desire for another. Fast food for exercise? It can be done but it is not easy which is another reason group support helps. We are not alone in this; our culture via the food industry drives an obsession with food that encourages overeating and weight gain. Reteaching is essential and we must start now with the children in the schools and adults in the health clubs. Kessler is calling for a public health campaign and as he led the way with tobacco he can lead the way with food to improve our health and well being.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Breakfast foods matter for cell health

Researchers evaluated breakfast foods to determine how different meals affected the functioning of the blood vessel lining otherwise known as the endothelium. What they found was that high glycemic index foods mattered. Subjects ate either cornflakes, which are high on the glycemic index, a low glycemic index high-fiber cereal, a glucose supplement, or just drank water. After the meal researchers measured the function of endothelial cells. Subjects who ate the cornflakes or glucose supplement had the most impaired cell function. This is a problem since impaired function may translate to damage and this can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Changing school lunch

We already teach children about food at school. We teach them by serving them fast food, that french fries and chicken nuggets are standard fare. We can change it by changing school meals and teaching children to cook, grow, and understand how to eat well. We eat what we see and know so if we clean up school lunch, we can teach our youth to eat well. This is how it works. Let's give them excellent, locally grown, nutritious food. Otherwise we fail.

Friday, July 3, 2009

obesity in America

As I have been saying...
The obesity rate in the US continues to rise. Beware- because if things continue as they are by 2030, 86% of Americans will be overweight. Read the latest research with grief.