Nutritional Programs for our kids!

By: Rachelle Manahan
When the screams of outraged parents who feel schools are neglecting the health and welfare of children by offering up unhealthy food finally reach our ears it’s enough to stop us in our tracks. When it comes down to it, we feel there is enough evidence of the negative affects poor nutrition habits have on long-term health especially to move our group to vote for spending more of the school budget on improving nutrition standards. Would we still feel that way if that meant a tax hike for residents in our school district? Probably. Not to sound like an overly concerned parent but our children are our future, and our health as a nation isn’t getting better – it’s getting worse according to the CDC (as cited by Bush, 2008). Any small measure we can take to teach lifestyle habits that will lead to more conscientious health choices are in everyone’s interest. I feel changes in the nutritional policies at schools, baby steps even, would be well worth the time and money. Below are some of my reasons we should take steps to improve school nutrition.

First, support for improving school nutritional standards is the correlation between nutritional intake and increased cognitive ability. The concept of what we eat affecting our mood and behavior isn’t a new revelation considering what is known about physiological processes involving metabolism, energy availability and use. However, linking food intake at schools with the improved cognitive performances of students is a newer application of the logic that “we are what we eat” (Florence et al., 2008).

Second, improved nutritional standards can help reduce obesity—there are statistics pulled from government indexes and data that are available on the CDC website. The CDC itself is widely regarded for providing the public with current and reliable data on health and disease issues. Although using the CDC as a reputable authority for statistics on current obesity rates and for relating obesity to later health issues is fairly safe bet, one rival cause for increases in childhood obesity is, as earlier mentioned, parental and family influence.

The third argument in support for improved nutritional standards is that helping students establish healthy lifestyle habits at a young age can help to decrease healthcare costs later down the road. Again, the CDC is referred to as a source of evidence. Schools have tremendous power to promote the concept of “wellness” which can promote good eating habits for life, and thus help reduce healthcare costs later on (Shaya et al., 2008, p.190). Costs for treating chronic illnesses (heart disease, type II diabetes, strokes) with risk factors (obesity, high blood pressure) that are linked in part to nutrition choices are threatening to overwhelm the current healthcare system (Bush, 2008, p. 41). According to the CDC (2007), approximately 80% of children who were overweight at aged 10–15 years are obese adults at age 25 years, and 25% of obese adults were overweight as children.

School Nutritional Programs make a substantial to our children’s. But again, schools are not solely responsible for a child’s eating habits. Another issue is the high prices associated with fresh vegetables and fruit, and minimally processed foods. Every family does not have the money to buy organic or even healthy choices all the time; processed foods are often cheaper. Some families are busier than ever, and many homes have both parents working. There is not necessarily time available to prepare and cook healthy well-balanced meals, or availability of parents to monitor the eating habits of their children constantly. With this I believe that education of healthy lifestyle should start from home and continuously follow at school where most of our kids spend so much of their time.

Reference Blanchard, J., & McNerthney, C. (2006, December 19). Seattle students getting junk-food fix elsewhere. Seattle P-I. Retrieved October 24, 2008, from http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/296428_junkfood19.html Bush, H. (2008, April). An ounce of prevention. H&HN: Hospitals & Health Networks, 82(4), 40-43. Retrieved October 9, 2008, from CINAHL with Full Text database. Shaya, F., Flores, D., Gbarayor, C., & Wang, J. (2008, April). School-based obesity interventions: a literature review. Journal of School Health, 78(4), 189-196. Retrieved October 9, 2008, from CINAHL with Full Text database. Florence, M., Asbridge, M., & Veugelers, P. (2008, April). Diet quality and academic performance. Journal of School Health, 78(4), 209-215. Retrieved October 9, 2008, from CINAHL with Full Text database. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2008, August). Childhood Obesity. Retrieved October 26, 2008, from http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/obesity/index.htm National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2008, October). Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved October 26, 2008, from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/

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