According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Junk food is one of the culprits for the obesity epidemic. Kids are exposed to junk food in many ways, from unhealthy parental role models to marketing geared towards kids and teens that encourages them to make unhealthy food choices. Kids are also offered poor food choices at school. A clean environment is the first step in helping kids make healthier choices. School lunches and vending machines are loaded with extra fat and calories. Replacing these junk foods with organic alternatives gives kids better options.
The problem with fast food items and junk food is they lack nutritional value, while also delivering a high dose of fat, calories, sugar, salt and carbs. These foods are robbing kids of essential vitamins and minerals. Eating excessive amounts of these foods leads to obesity and malnutrition.
Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 that lets the government set new guidelines for nutrition standards in schools. This bill involves totally revamping the current school lunch program. Healthy organic alternatives are to replace french fries, pizza, fried chicken, nachos and corndogs.
School cafeterias are only part of the problem though. 74% of middle schools and 98% of high schools have vending machines and snack bars that offer endless choices of junk food. Its important to give kids healthy options. Some healthy alternatives to junk food include: organic yogurt, gluten-free snacks, nuts, whole grain crackers and whole fruits.
Junk food and processed foods are cheap and easy to serve. That has made them easy choices for school lunches until now. Cost has always been a factor in providing a healthier school lunch. The higher cost of school lunches will be offset by an increase in government funding provided by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Federal funds are to increase 6 cents per school lunch thanks to this bill. It is expected to cover the higher cost of whole foods and may include the use of healthy vending machines.
Replacing junk food with organic alternatives will ensure that kids get at least one nutritious meal per day. Trimming calories and fat from school lunches alone won’t cure childhood obesity. Healthy choices need to be made at home as well, but removing junk food from school lunches and vending machines is a good start.
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