loosening school lunch standards may increase obesity

Friday , January 03, 2014 - 3:47 PM

School Lunches

FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, file photo, students pick up their lunch at Barre Town...

Contributed, Susan Levin

Editor,

The USDA announced Friday that it would permanently weaken the restrictions on the amount of meat that can be served in the National School Lunch Program. As a registered dietitian, I see this as a devastating move for the health of our nation’s children.

This decision weakens crucial provisions in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that were designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and combat the epidemics of childhood obesity and diabetes. Loosening the standards in this law allows schools to serve more saturated fat-and-cholesterol-laden meat to children, increasing their risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases.

The USDA’s choice to prioritize meat industry profits over children’s health will come at an enormous price. It will only intensify the epidemic of chronic disease in America, which now accounts for 75 percent of the $2 trillion in U.S. annual health care spending. For the sake of our nation’s children and our economic future, I urge the USDA to reconsider this decision.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.

Director of nutrition education

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Washington, D.C.

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