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Earlier this week, I started a discussion on thetopic of food in schools. This is part two of that commentary.
As parents, it is our job to instill healthy habits into our children’s lives. But I believe that our schools have a responsibility not to undermine what is best for their health. And since public schools are funded by the government, it is also our legislators’ responsibility to provide regulations for the schools to follow.
Approximately 40 percent of a child’s total calories are consumed during the school day. And considering 1 out of 3 children are obese or overweight, why would schools not take extensive steps to ensure a healthier environment? Why would parents try to circumvent even the smallest attempts to make a positive change? And why on earth would Congress reverse steps of progress when it comes to healthier school policies?
I do not have answers for the first two questions. But I do know that, as with any other issue, Congress makes their decisions based on financial and political benefit.
Earlier this month, Congress voted to reject newly proposed USDA guidelines which would have made school lunches more nutritious. And now, essentially, pizza can be considered a vegetable serving because of its chemically loaded tomato paste. Food companies such as ConAgra and Schwan have spent $5.6 million in lobbying against these new guidelines. Big Food lobbies, not our children’s health, are the prime concern of the politicians.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has proven that these changes are possible and worthwhile through his television specials and website. But our kids are at the mercy of what is most profitable for Washington lobbyists.
Of the children born in 2000, one in three will develop diabetes in their lifetime. My father died at the age of 46 from diabetic complications. Losing toes, feet, and the ability to walk are common consequences that we typically hear about in relation to this disease. But we must be reminded that it kills!
Comedian Patrice O’Neal died Tuesday at the age of 41 due to a stroke brought on by diabetes. This disease is sneaky and quiet and is often masked by more headline-worthy symptoms. Some people are born with it and do not have the privilege of prevention. So, when you can, of course you should.
Parents are outliving their children for the first time ever. Yet people remain in denial and continue to fill their kids with crap. Some of us are trying to make positive choices and when those choices are sabotaged by schools and government, it can be discouraging.
There are also parents who refuse to make even the slightest effort to ensure the health of their own children. That is when schools and government are crucial in protecting the kids who have no one else looking out for them.
I hate to be so cliché, but it really does take a village. Parents, schools and government need to work together to get a grip on the health crisis our nation is facing. But right now, all I see is a bunch of selfish whining and corrupt legislation.