Childhood obesity trends are horrifying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted that in the 70ís childhood obesity rates were less than 6% while studies done today are showing a trend upwards of around 20%. In other words, in a single classroom, instead of there being just one child picked on for being overweight, we now have two or three kids. When considering the fact that childhood obesity leads to serious health consequences, one starts to wonder why it is steadily increasing and what is being done to slow it down.
While there are many factors affecting the obesity rates in the US, one huge area to be addressed are the school vending machines. In an educational and supposedly safe environment for children, it is difficult to understand why junk food or high calorie yet nutrient deficient foods are allowed into our schools. Some might argue freedom of choice, but for children who often cannot make the right choice; it is up to adults to do something about it.
In nutrition, vending machines are considered very dangerous for multiple reasons. In our society, everything is fast paced. In most schools, a lunch break may only lasts 40 minutes, including time to go outside and play. This makes it very tempting for our kids to fill up on high calorie foods and sugary beverages so they can make better use of their time socializing. Another reason vending machines are dangerous is because they are easily accessible. In bigger schools, one can find a vending machine in several spots near the cafeteria and around other areas like the gymnasium, or school entrances. The free advertisement that these companies get is well worth donating thousands of dollars for educational needs.
The nutrient deficient foods include candy bars, soda, chips, and pastry like desserts. These foods carry a relatively long shelf life and because of this are filled with chemicals that are harmful to children and adults alike. Junk food offers very little nutritional value and contributes greatly to the cause of childhood obesity.
Public Schools: Funding from Vendors
Many public schools have been under funded, especially those in poorer districts. Because of this, companies like Pepsi and Coke have said that they will offer hundreds of thousands of dollars to schools who allow them to place their vending machines where kids can have access to them. When faced with receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from these companies, which can be used to fund books, teacher salaries, and remodeling, it can be difficult for school administrators to say no, despite the health consequences of childhood obesity.
This is why the CDC has tried to develop some restrictions on school vending machines and junk food, but while we wait for the government to work, itís up to us to do our part. This is why at home education is very important in addition to limiting other exposures to junk food.