Child obesity has been an ongoing issue for several years. 13.7 million children under the age of 19 are obese in America. Many of these children come from homes where food insecurity is prevalent. Although there are several factors that play a part in obesity, diet and physical activity are among the biggest factors in terms of whether or not a child is obese.
Schools have adopted policies and practices to help children eat healthier and be more physically active. In 2010, Michelle Obama introduced the Let’s Move! campaign, promoting healthy food choices in schools all around America and more physical activity. The campaign is intended to decrease child obesity by 5% by 2030.
Donald Trump has recently announced on Michelle Obama’s birthday, a new proposal which will end her healthy standards for school lunches.proposal which will end her healthy standards for school lunches. Not only will this hurt Obama’s vision to decrease child obesity, it will hurt the children and families of the children who are obese or are fighting obesity.
The Trump administration plans to distribute more flexibility in terms of school lunches. Options will include more french fries, pizza, meat, and other unhealthy choices that Michelle Obama previously overruled. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for nutritional programs that feed nearly 30 million students.
“I remember having the option of cookies and nachos and cheese during lunch, back in middle school,” said Mason Simmons, a sophomore in high school. “Now, I can’t even get pizza at my school unless its whole grain bread, which obviously doesn’t taste as good. Most kids I know who eat school lunch, throw away most of their food when lunch is over, so I’m sure there amount of food waste has increased.”
Food waste is something many argue is an issue that stems from having healthier options and limited junk food in schools. Many students are refusing to eat veggies and resort to throwing away almost everything on their lunch tray or they pack their own unhealthy foods to bring to lunch. Recent studies have found that U.S. schools waste a total of $1.2 billion annually.
Although food waste is a major issue, unhealthy food regulations may not be the solution to this problem. With unhealthy options in school, the amount of obesity among children will continue to increase. Many parents aren’t happy with Trump’s decision, but many students are looking forward to having less of a strict diet at school.
“I hate that the government is trying to decide what we eat,” said Jayda Collins, a senior in high school. “I can decide for myself and if I choose to be unhealthy, that’s on me. It really isn’t their business, if I have a salad or cheeseburger for lunch. Whatever I can’t eat at school, I will eat when school is over so what’s the difference.”
With parents and students split down the middle as to if this plan is a good idea or not, there is really no way to tell if this will increase or decrease child obesity in the U.S.