Dear LA Teacher,
I actually think the kids in my Sherman Oaks neighborhood are becoming thinner. What’s up? Are they eating healthier? If so, what can we do to continue this trend?
Dear Fat Detective,
A study in the August 2012 issue of Pediatrics suggested evidence that state laws curbing school sales of junk food and sweetened drinks may be playing a role in slowing the childhood obesity epidemic.
Effective state laws include specific nutrition requirements such as limits on sugar and fats and the need to be consistent from kindergarten through high school.
California’s 2005 Senate Bills 12 and 965 put restrictions on food and beverage sales in California public schools. The law sets limits on the amount of fat, saturated fat, sugar, and calories permitted in foods sold at school for grades k-12. The sale of soda was restricted on school campuses and limits were placed on sugar-sweetened beverages. Middle schools and high schools can still sell these beverages ½ hour after school is dismissed.
The bad news is that some school populations have rebelled against the “tasteless” healthy snacks and banned foods. Consequently, a few students will bring the banned foods in from home or purchase them from nearby grocery stores.
Rob Shamberg, Certified Health Coach, says getting children involved in identifying the products they would enjoy is key to the success of these programs.
Here’s what I suggest parents and schools should do:
1. Conduct before and after school “tastings” of proposed products to be sold in the school. Let the kids vote on healthy snacks they think taste the best. With student buy in, healthy food programs are apt to be more successful.
2. A Food Fair would get parents and students involved. The fair could be set up like a science fair where students show the benefits of healthy foods vs junk foods at kiosks the children build to display their researched projects.
3. The school PTA can locate and distribute coupons for healthy snacks for parent purchase.
Hopefully, the obesity epidemic has peaked. It’s necessary for parents, teachers, and students to educate the school populations about the harmful affects of junk food on the human body for this weight loss trend to continue.