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USA Today has a story about a new Institutes of Medicine report saying that a change in school lunch programs to emphasize more fruits and vegetables, limiting salt and calories, and offering one percent and skim milk instead of the whole variety, would have a discernible impact on kids’ overall health.

The report notes that 31 million children eat lunch at school each day, while 10 million eat breakfast. While the report concedes that such a move would cost more, it suggests that the long term health impact would be positive and even financially advantageous.

The USA Today story says that the report now goes to the US Congress, where it is hoped that it will be used as a guideline in creating new legislation.
KC's View:
Anything that can be done to get ride of the slop that gets served in so many US public schools would be a positive move, and I’ll buy the argument that the long-term financial impact would be positive...though clearly there would be some short-term pain that a lot of people will find difficult to advocate because of the recession.

And, as I’ve said here before, I think that supermarkets can play a role in this kind of movement. It is a natural position to take, and can be a great way to create a positive local image in communities.

That said, there’s a part of me that is really tired of all the debate about the obesity crisis in America and elsewhere. That may be politically incorrect to say, but it is a fact…in part because so much of the discussion is strident, with people stating positions and then refusing to listen to other sides. There’s talk about taxes and fines and bans and labeling and the nanny state and the notion of personal accountability…but I think there is a dysfunctionality to the debate because a lot of these issues are being discussed in a series of vacuums. People aren’t connecting the dots, and so we don't get a clear picture, don't have a clear sense of the map that will take us in a more healthful direction.

Should soft drinks be banned in schools, or should they be taxed as a way of diminishing consumption? Well, I understand the argument for such steps, but it doesn’t really make any sense if schools don't teach kids about nutrition and health, if schools don't offer regular gym classes that help them understand the long-term physical and mental benefits of regular exercise. It also doesn’t make sense unless parents are of the same mind, because at home is where the most important lessons are taught.

The connections have to be made. More than band-aids have to be applied. If we’re going to fix the school lunch program, it had better be in the context of larger reforms.