Navigation Links
USDA-backed study finds federal school lunches linked to childhood obesity
Date:8/24/2010

With children going back to school, parents are concerned that their youngsters are staying fit and eating right, especially those who dine in a school cafeteria.

New research funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that children who eat school lunches that are part of the federal government's National School Lunch Program are more likely to become overweight.

The same research study found, however, that children who eat both the breakfast and lunch sponsored by the federal government are less heavy than children who don't participate in either, and than children who eat only the lunch, says economist Daniel L. Millimet at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Millimet authored the study with economists Rusty Tchernis, Georgia State University, and Muna S. Hussain, Kuwait University. For a link to the journal article and to more information see http://tinyurl.com/2874wqn.

"The fact that federally funded school lunches contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic is disconcerting, although not altogether surprising," said Millimet, whose research expertise is the economics of children, specifically topics related to schooling and health.

The new study was published in the Summer issue of The Journal of Human Resources. It is titled "School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the federal lunch and breakfast programs. Through USDA the federal government reimburses schools for a portion of school lunch costs and also donates surplus agricultural food items. While USDA does require that the meals meet certain nutritional standards, schools choose the specific foods.

A la carte items outside the guidelines Schools also can serve individual food items a la carte, which fall outside the scope of the federal guidelines and allow students to choose additional foods.

For their study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 13,500 elementary school students. Students were interviewed in kindergarten, first and third grades, and then again in later grades. "First, it is very difficult to plan healthy but inviting school lunches at a low price," Millimet said. "Second, given the tight budgets faced by many school districts, funding from the sales of a la carte lunch items receives high priority. That said, it's comforting to know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the federal school nutrition programs, takes the issue very seriously. The USDA sponsors not only my research, but that of others as well, to investigate the issues and possible solutions."

The USDA is partnering with First Lady Michelle Obama to fight what experts say is a childhood obesity epidemic among America's school children. The First Lady on May 18 released the results and recommendations of The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report, which said that more than 30 percent of American children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese. The report recommends serving healthier foods in schools.

Lunches may not be in compliance

Judging from the results of the study, Millimet said, the food being served in school lunches may not maintain a healthy weight in children. The food in school breakfasts appears to be healthier, however.

"Technically what is going on is that the federal government establishes nutrition guidelines for lunches and breakfasts if schools wish to receive federal funding," Millimet said. "But there's evidence that school lunches are less in compliance with these guidelines than breakfasts. The other possible issue is that these days schools try to make money from a la carte items at lunch. And it's possible that even if the school lunch is healthy, kids buying lunch are more likely to tack on extra items that are not healthy."

Nutritionists strongly advocate eating breakfast for a healthy lifestyle, Millimet said, noting that up to a point any breakfast is better than no breakfast.

The National Student Lunch Program supplies meals to about 30 million children in 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools, according to the USDA.

The School Breakfast Program gives cash assistance to more than 80,000 schools for about 10 million children.

Obesity among students takes jump

The study cites data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey taken between 1971 and 1974 and again from 2003 to 2004 that found the prevalence of overweight preschool children ages 2-5 jumped from 5 percent to 13.9 percent. Among school-aged children, it jumped from 4 percent to 18.8 percent for children 6-11; and 6.1 percent to 17.4 percent for those 12-19.


'/>"/>

Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. £2 million study to reveal workings of dementia genes
3. New study looks to define evangelicals and how they affect polling
4. CU-Boulder study suggests air quality regulations miss key pollutants
5. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
6. Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas
7. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
8. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
9. New study indicates link between weight gains during pregnancy and dieting history
10. Study reveals specific gene in adolescent men with delinquent peers
11. Sweat it out: UH study examines ability of sweat patches to monitor bone loss
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/30/2017)... June 30, 2017 Today, American Trucking ... supplier of face and eye tracking software, became ... provider program. "Artificial intelligence and ... to monitor a driver,s attentiveness levels while on ... able to detect fatigue and prevent potential accidents, ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ... of online age and identity verification solutions, announced today ... Identity Conference 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, ... Building and International Trade Center. Identity ... globe and in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... , April 19, 2017 The ... vendor landscape is marked by the presence of several ... however held by five major players - 3M Cogent, ... companies accounted for nearly 61% of the global military ... companies in the global military biometrics market boast global ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... of a complex biological network, a depiction of a system of linkages and ... Dmitry Korkin, PhD, associate professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... a United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that demonstrates the accuracy of ... capable of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and viral respiratory tract infections ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... first-ever genomics analysis platform specifically designed for life science researchers to analyze ... pioneering researcher Rosalind Franklin, who made a major contribution to the discovery ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but most personal ... rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, and likely ... dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or alkali, getting ...
Breaking Biology Technology: