by Jada Walker
Posted 11/12/2012 12:00 am
This fall when Arkansas school children got in line at the school cafeteria, they had better choices than ever before. On the menu were a variety of foods and beverages recommended under new USDA school meal standards.
Changes in diet, however, can often take some time to adjust to. So it was no surprise that some children initially complained of being hungrier than usual as they adjust to proper portion sizes and calorie amounts. For instance, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, American school-aged children currently consume 50 to 240 percent more protein than they really need. The new school meal standards are in line with nutritional requirements — rather than the current over-consumption that’s helped to increase childhood obesity.
While it’s true that some kids may need more food throughout the day (student athletes for instance), not all kids are linebackers nor should they eat like one. Parents can send their children to school with a snack, and others can take advantage of after-school snack or dinner programs. The Child Health Advisory Committee continues to work on key food issues, and in past activities removed trans-fats from food service and school food items. We believe that these combined efforts, given more time, will help America’s young people embrace the new healthy food choices, learn proper nutrition and leave the lunchroom satisfied.
So kids and parents, don’t give up on the new school meal standards. Remembering to “eat your vegetables — and fruits” is not a necessary evil; it’s a tasty way to get the nourishment you need to maintain a healthy weight and be successful in school. And know that the efforts of many organizations across the state are working to help our students live a healthier life with healthier foods.
Chair, Child Health Advisory Committee
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