School Lunches Linked to Kids' Obesity
Study Shows Kids Who Bring Lunch From Home Are Less Likely to Be Overweight
WebMD News Archive
School Lunch vs. Lunch From Home continued...
The school-lunch kids also were less likely to participate in active sports
like basketball, moderate exercise like walking, or team sports than their
home-fed counterparts. And they spent more time watching TV, playing video
games, and using computers outside of school.
"One-third of kids in the U.S. are now overweight or obese, which means
one-third of kids are at risk of heart disease and diabetes as they age. That
scares me," Jackson says.
"If we don't do something now, the recent trend toward fewer deaths due to
heart disease among U.S. adults is in jeopardy of reversing, she says.
So should you be packing your kids lunch?
Michael Barrett, MD, co-chairman of the committee that chose which studies
to highlight at the meeting and a cardiologist at Temple University in
Philadelphia, says that's not necessarily the solution.
There's no way to be sure what you’re packing in their lunches is what they
are actually eating; foods can be traded and snacks can be bought from vending
machines or local stores, he says.
Instead, parents need to work with school systems to ensure that school
lunches have less salt and fat and more fiber, Jackson says.
Parents also need to feed kids healthy foods at home, both at meals and for
snacks, she says.
From an exercise point of view, "integrate small steps such as walking to
school," Jackson says.
Recent data show that while an estimated 30.6 million U.S. students eat
school lunches, only 6% of school lunch programs meet the requirements
established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For example, the average
sodium content was twice that recommended, and 80% of schools exceeded rules to
keep fat to less than 30% of total calories.