A problem clearly exists in that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last thirty years.
A problem clearly exists in that children in the United States ages six to eleven have had a thirteen percent increase in obesity between the years 1980 and 2008.
A problem clearly exists in that more than one-third of children and adolescents were either obese or overweight by 2008.
A problem clearly exists in that children who are obese are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.1
And, finally, a problem exists because addressing these problems has become a problem in itself.
The Obesity Epidemic
The number of obese children in the United States is extreme. This is not to be confused with simply being overweight, a condition defined as having excess body weight for a particular height due to multiple possible causes such as fat, muscle, bone, water, or some combination of these things. Obesity is the result of excess body fat and nothing else. The long-term results can be severe.
Obese children are likely to become obese adults and, as such, become more at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and different types of cancer. In order to prevent some very unpleasant outcomes that are associated with obesity, children can benefit from immediate lifestyle changes including diet and physical exercise.
In an attempt to curb the tide that is childhood obesity, new government nutrition standards have been enacted that require schools to expand variety and offer larger portions of fruit and vegetables. There are also limits on the number of calories allowed students based on age. If schools meet the new standards, they are entitled to federal meal reimbursements.2
Student Lunch Protests
While the government may have a vision for a healthier America, students have a few thoughts of their own. Thought #1 is that many kids maintain they are still hungry after having dined on the updated school lunch menu.
Seventy percent of the students at a Wisconsin High School recently boycotted the school’s cafeteria and were joined by district middle schoolers. County officials are supportive of student concerns, maintaining that the lunch guidelines do not address the diversity of student lifestyles. On of the concerns was that a two-hundred pound high school athlete will need a larger lunch portion than the average student given his size and the physical demands of his day. 3
The concerns of high school athletes have been noted, and at least one official believes that the claims are unfair. The official concedes that the portions are not designed to address the rigors of athletics, but points out that the meals are only meant to address the nutrient needs of an average student. It is recommended that the parents of athletes pack a healthy snack from home for after school activities. 4
Brown bag protests have also sprung up in a few states where students have packed lunches from home rather than purchase lunch at school, and two teachers has even gone as far as to compose a parody for YouTube called “We Are Hungry.”