Navigation Links
U.S. Aims to Make School Lunches Healthier

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Trying to fight the growing child obesity epidemic, new federal guidelines proposed Thursday focus on making school lunches healthier.

The new guidelines, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), would be the first such changes in 15 years and include cutting salt and fat and adding more fruits and vegetables to school cafeteria fare.

"For the first time in a generation we are proposing significant improvements to the nutritional quality of the meals served to children across America," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters during a Thursday press conference.

He noted that about one-third of school children are obese. "These children will consume a third to a half of their calories in school and we can have a positive impact in improving the nutritional quality of school meals," Vilsack said.

One nutrition expert agreed.

"Having healthier fare in the schools is a critical step in giving children the education and experience of healthy foods and reducing the risk of many chronic diseases and obesity," said Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn.

The new guidelines also call for more whole grains and the use of low- or nonfat milk. They would also limit the amount of starch to one cup of starchy vegetables a week, so french fries wouldn't be on the menu every day, according to the Associated Press.

The nation may have a financial incentive to boosting the health of school meals, too. "If we do not get our hands around the obesity epidemic, by 2018 we will face nearly $344 billion of additional health care costs -- that's more than 21 percent of our current health care spending," Vilsack said.

According to 2008 statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 17 percent of children and adolescents 2 to 19 years old are obese.

The new school meal guidelines, which could affect more than 32 million children, are based on recommendations from a 2009 report from the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

The change in guidelines comes just weeks after President Barack Obama signed the child nutrition bill, which will help schools pay for the healthier foods, which can be more expensive.

Meals that would fall under the new guidelines are currently provided free or at low cost to low-income children and are already subject to government nutrition standards. Under the new law, nutrition standards will be extended, for the first time, to foods sold in schools that aren't government-subsidized. These include "a la carte" foods on the lunch line and snacks sold in vending machines, the AP reported.

At this point, the guidelines remain a proposal, and it could take several years before schools are required to make changes, the news service said.

Under the proposed new guidelines:

  • School meals would have calorie limits.
  • Salt would be cut by half over 10 years.
  • Most trans fats would be banned.
  • More fruits and vegetables would be included in each meal.
  • Only low-fat or nonfat milk would be served.
  • Meals would see increases in the amount of whole grains and eventually will include only whole grains.
  • Breakfast would include both grain and protein, not one or the other.

"These are the kinds of sensible changes in school nutrition are welcome," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine said. "I suspect, however, there will be some opposition from those who see here an attempt by government to 'dictate' the food choices of kids," he added.

Katz said he doesn't buy that argument. "Kids are a captive audience in schools, and so whatever foods are made available will influence the selections they make. In an age of epidemic childhood obesity and rampant type 2 diabetes, along with a long list of other potentially diet-related pediatric ills, how could we possibly countenance influencing choices in the direction of lower nutrition standards and greater health risk?" he said.

Heller agreed that the proposed changes are necessary.

"This will be a process, but the sooner we get our children on the road to healthy lifestyle behaviors, the better," Heller said. "Now we have to figure out ways to encourage parents to offer healthy choices at home."

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more on healthy diets.

SOURCES: Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator, Center for Cancer Care, Griffin Hospital, Derby, Conn. David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn; Jan. 13, 2011, news conference, U.S. Department of Agriculture, including USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; Jan. 13, 2011, Associated Press

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Dartmouth Medical School faculty named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
2. NIDCR funding to US dental schools diminished from 2005 to 2009
3. Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine launches the National Childrens Study
4. Concussed high school athletes who receive neuropsychological testing sidelined longer
5. Starting School Early May Keep Girls Thin
6. Boston University School of Medicine awarded grants to improve early detection of lung cancer
7. Flu Spreads Easily in High Schools, Study Suggests
8. Grades in High School Might Influence Adult Health
9. No Scientific Proof Backing Stricter Tests of Ground Beef in School Lunches
10. School-based program effective in helping adolescents
11. Good grades in high school lead to better health, study finds
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
U.S. Aims to Make School Lunches Healthier
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, FCPX ... Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms over ... Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and drag it above media ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar ... M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal ... complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, ... Bronze Wellness at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in ... the 7th annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent article ... people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state that individuals are now ... of these less common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, ... the dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity ... who are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Revolutionary ... Oticon , industry leaders in advanced audiology ... of Oticon Opn ™, the world,s first internet ... possibilities for IoT devices.      (Photo: ... introduces a number of ,world firsts,: , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MEDIA, Pa. , June 23, 2016 ... treatments in an outpatient dialysis facility.  Treatments are usually ... to 6 hours per visit, including travel time, equipment ... on a patient, but especially grueling for patients who ... residents of a skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers for ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Experian Health, the ... transforming the patient payment and care experience, ... new products and services that will enhance ... cycle offerings. These award-winning solutions will enable ... remain compliant in an ever-changing environment and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: