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Nutritional Revamp of School Lunches Expected

January 16, 2011

Although it could take several years to implement the Department of Agriculture has recently planned to change its school lunch nutritional standards for the first time in 15 years. The new guidelines would be aimed at the meals subsidized by the Federal government and would be based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine. Highlighted below are some of the major changes.

SALT AND FAT ARE OUT, WHOLE GRAINS, FRUITS AND VEGGIES ARE IN

With the new guidelines school meals would be required to gradually reduce their sodium content to less than half the current amount over a 10-year period. Milk would also be served in only two varieties: low fat or nonfat. More servings of whole grains, fruits and vegetables would also be gradually increased for meals and served daily.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Currently, the proposal only applies to reduced-cost and free school lunches offered to low-income students that are government subsidized but other proposals have been made that could include school vending machines and a la carte items as well.

WHY THE CHANGES?

The aim of the new guidelines for school lunches is an effort to combat the rising problem of childhood obesity in America. According to results from the 2007–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) an estimated 16.9% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese; a statistic most would argue demonstrates an obesity epidemic among school-aged adolescents. The hope is that gradual changes such as the ones being implemented on school lunches could aid in lowering obesity rates among children.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

Since this proposal many have argued the government is overstepping its boundaries by regulating what kids can eat at school while others applaud the government for stepping in and trying to create healthier foods in school. What is your opinion? Please leave a comment!

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