Wednesday, October 3, 2012

School Lunch Meddling—Why Washington Just Doesn't Get It

Anybody out there still hearing complaints about the changes to the National School Lunch program at your school? Now that we're into our second month of packing daily lunches, realization sets in. This is the new norm. In addition to getting the kids out of bed, fed, dressed, homework finished up, out the door, and onto the bus we must now pack up a healthy lunch for each kid.

This is fine because it actually puts the parents back in control of what their kids eat for lunch. Here is where the problem lies and what Washington just doesn't understand. Childhood obesity is not related to the school lunchroom. The calories and portions included in the school lunch program are not the problem. The problem lies with the parents or whoever is caring for the kids at home. Yes the eating behaviors and choices we make are modeled by our children.

We've all seen it. Chubby kids waddling out of the convenience store loaded up with chips, a king-sized Kit Kat bar, and a super-sized Coke. They see nothing wrong with eating all of this junk all of the time because their parents are walking out in front of them with a box of donuts, a 20-ounce Diet Coke, and a large bag of M&Ms. Classic. Another example is fast food at McDonalds with their Super Sized fries and sodas for a paltry price. Need I say more. It's cheap, it tastes good, and it packs on the pounds.

One of my favorite Midwestern restaurant examples is The Red Robin. No portions are small at this establishment. Everything is huge and it's unimaginable how people can consume an entire meal at The Red Robin and walk out without going into cardiac arrest.

My point is our kids follow our example. If we consistently make healthy choices at home, our kids will most likely follow suit. If a family eats out or consumes too much fast food each week, it shows. I realize that people are busy. We all don't have the luxury of cooking each meal from scratch, but it really doesn't take much effort to throw a healthy dinner together or to cut back on the trips to the Dairy Queen.

But Washington will go on regulating the calories and portions of our kid's school lunches. Some cities will ban Super Size drinks and fast food restaurants. Bans and regulations really don't address the obesity problem facing America. It's time to sign the kids up for soccer. Turn off the TV and go outside for a bike ride. Take the dog for a walk. Join a health club and actually work out at the health club. Don't just brag about joining. Until parents start making healthy choices at home, the childhood obesity problem will remain.

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