Apparently, sugary drinks and fatty junk food will be out of the nation's schools next summer. OK, perhaps that is a good idea. Childhood obesity is a big problem right now. According to a Utah Department of Health report, nearly a quarter of Utah third-graders are either overweight or obese. There are similar problems in other grades.
Besides the health factor, being too heavy carries social costs. Heavier children tend to be teased or bullied more, their self-esteem is harmed by cultural appraisal of their bodies. If we can do something to make some children healthier by avoiding poor nutrition choices, that's a good thing.
But let's be realistic here: Replacing a deep chocolate chip cookie with an apple, or soda pop with apple juice, is not going to be the main key in improving children's health. That is a responsibility left to the home. It will be up to parents and guardians to make sure that children are eating healthy foods at home. It's the parents' responsibility to make sure that their children spend sufficient time outdoors or in gyms, walking, playing, exercising. It is the responsibility of parents, as well as older, more mature peers, to not tolerate that recreation time for children is dominated by video games, DVD movies, or television.
In short, what's needed for kids is more time spent in activities that can't be done while sipping a sugary drink or eating junk food. There needs to be a balance between inside games that involve finger movements and games that require endurance, skill and strength.
We wonder, a year after the school lunch standards are implemented -- which will be the summer of 2015 -- if there will be a noticeable positive change? Will a trend of healthier children be observed, if not in 2015, a year later? Unless school food rules are complemented by better eating habits in U.S. homes, we doubt there will be much success.