Americans continue to become more and more overweight. They continue to fill themselves with empty carbohydrates and fatty foods that are full of sodium and cholesterol. The fast food industry is part of the blame, along with the public’s unhealthy food choices. The fast food industry grew out of the need for a quick fix for hunger. It has become quite cheap and is easily accessible. However, it is almost always not a healthy choice. Americans die of heart disease every day and “about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year” (cdc. gov). This amounts to about “1 in every 4 deaths” (cdc. gov).
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women. The affects of heart disease continue to affect the community, as “every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack” (cdc. gov). A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that the trends in the prevalence of obesity among U. S. children ages 6–11 increased from 4. 0 percent in 1971-1974 to 18. 8 percent in 2007-2010. This same survey also revealed that adolescents ages 12-19 increased from, 6. 1 percent in 1971-1974, decreasing to 5. 0 percent in 1976-1980, but then elevated back up to 18. 2 percent by 2007-2010 (AHA Staff).
As a result of these numbers and the heart disease epidemic, the state school board has chosen to embark in a few changes to the breakfast and lunch program. By simply offering our children more nutritious meals and teaching them the value of eating healthy while in a school setting, they become more conscientious of their food choices and begin to see an improve with their overall health and energy levels. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
In a population-based sample of 5- year olds to 17-year-olds, seventy percent were obese and had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease” (2013). If they are equipped with the proper information on healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, they will be less likely to fall into the traditional American trend of overeating. Our goal here at the state of Georgia school board is to take care of our students and to make decisions that always consider their best interests and how they will benefit from certain changes with incentives. Therefore, we are proposing a change to the lunch.
Students will have healthier choices and will no longer be given the unhealthy options, like an abundance of fried foods and pasta. All portions will be total recommended serving by the USDA according to children’s ages and we will utilize the Food Guide Pyramid in structuring menus. The menu will contain fruits and vegetables daily. Variations will be allowed such as fresh, frozen without sugar added, canned in juice/light syrup, or diced. Grains and meat alternatives that are age appropriate for students, such as tofu and soy products which meet USDA crediting (U. S. D. A. ).
Lastly, milk choices will be changed from whole milk to unflavored fat-free or low-fat or flavored fat-free milk only. (U. S. D. A. ) As many Americans struggle to maintain financial stability, many have been unable to, so many households are cutting the monthly budget in the area that they consider to be the least of a necessity and that is with the grocery bill. As a result, many children are going without proper nutrition. Many parents do not qualify for government benefits and those who do, fail to have enough to go around.
Therefore, many children who attend public school end up getting their only meals in school. Some get breakfast and lunch, while others get lunch only. The Department of Agriculture reported an increase in the “number of students receiving subsidized lunches” (Dillon, 2011). In the report, they provided that the number “rose to 21 million” since the 2006 – 2007 school year, where it was at “18 million” (Dillon, 2011). Due to their financial state, students in families with incomes up to “130 percent” of the poverty level or “$29,055” for a family of four, are eligible for free school meals.
Children in a four-member household with income up to “$41,348” qualify for a subsidized lunch priced at “40 cents” (Dillon, 2011). Many of these families are single parent homes. This familial make-up often leaves many children caring for themselves on daily basis. Many of these children even end up caring for their siblings, as they are usually the oldest home and are left to see after the younger children. Surprisingly, these children are often fairly young. Their ages range from 9 years old and up. According to an article on Parents. om, there are more than one million grade school children that go home every day after school that have no one to care for them. This is a direct result of the elimination of many school programs. It is believed that one in every 25 children that are kindergarten age to fifth grade is the modern day latchkey kids. In order to successfully implement these changes, a new healthy menu has been developed. The menu will be established on a quarterly basis and closely monitored. Additionally, student feedback would be given on how they feel about the food and what improvements can be made.
We want the students to be informed and we want them to understand why these changes are necessary. However, we do not want to serve them bland food. We want them to understand that healthy eating can be fun, tasty and look good, while all promoting overall good health. We must ensure that all schools and cafeteria workers are equipped with the tools to properly prepare meals. We must also ensure that all students have a number of different options to choose from on a daily basis. For example, a child who is lactose intolerant should not only have an option of milk, yogurt and cheese.
Funding for these changes will be available through state and federal government incentives for implementation of healthier food choices for students in promoting better health and preventive healthcare. Over time, we will find that children will gain less weight. They will have more energy and be less groggy. They will also have a better understanding of healthy eating and how it benefits them. They will not only mentally understand but physically understand by seeing the different in how they look and feel. Children will also be empowered to make healthy choices when they are alone and as they progress into adulthood.
This will improve their quality of life and lessen the probability of them becoming obese or developing heart disease. Healthy eating is a matter of personal choice. Lifestyle changes with eating can be made for better health outcomes and to avoid obesity. Although, the school board cannot force students to eat healthy all of the time, it can make simple changes that can encourage them to want to eat healthy. If a person is only shown one way to do things but are then shown an easier or even better way, they may be more willing to make the necessary changes to improve their quality of life.
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Topic: The Public Needs to Know
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