Should schools be responsible for obesity mitigation?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tyler B., May 10, 2012.

  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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  3. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I'm a huge supporter of healthier lunches in school. A lot of times school is the only place kids eat. Nutrition is just as important to their growing bodies as it is to their growing brains. Whenever I gave pizza or doughnut prizes to my classes, I always made them eat an apple first. If they wanted their slice of pizza or doughnut, they had to show me an apple core first.

    It is a home problem as well. I believe not only should schools have healthier lunches, but there should be classes for parents about how to feed their growing children well. A program like this was tried out in a very low performing school in VA or WV (I can't remember and I don't have a link, sorry!) School lunches were revamped, parents and students were given free nutrition classes. The school as a whole lost a ton of body weight as a whole and scores went through the roof.

    The school where I currently teach enforces "healthy only lunches". No cookies, sodas, or fatty foods allowed. I'm a huge supporter of this.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think in really low SES schools, this is a fine line between trying to feed the kids enough at school (knowing that they some don't have enough food at home) while also trying to keep them healthy. I did a lot of my student teaching in really, really low SES inner city schools. They provided breakfast,at least one snack per day (often two), and lunch...saying that it might be all the kids got to eat that day. While that makes sense for those students, students who were eating adequately at home were still getting way too much food between all of the extras at school and their normal intake at home. Even though the food was nutritious, too much of anything is still unhealthy. 3,000 calories of healthy food is still 3,000 calories. Of course they also don't want to just decide who needs extra snacks and give them out only to those students, as other students would be upset that only some kids got to eat snacks in class and on the other hand it might draw attention to the kids who needed the handout.
     
  5. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I'm not sure families can buy pop, candy, and funk food with WIC? I don't know the answer to that, but my assumption was only beverages that contained a certain amount of fruit juice could be purchased (or course milk and other clearly nutritious beverages). I'm not sure of this though.

    More directly to the issue, I think there are many things that are relevant for discussion in the "home vs. school" debate. On a moral and ethical level, though, if things aren't being addressed at home, but they can be addressed at school, is it not appropriate to try? I realize some extremely conservative folks who believe in limited government intervention may disagree, but to the extent that schools can promote health even beyond the educational environment, I'd be supportive. I do usually support a family's ability to not have their child participate in a program, though, to the extent that the program is controversial.

    Another perspective is that very rarely are issues in child development so isolated that they don't, in some way, affect other areas of development. It is probably very likely that children with poor diets, or who are obese, might be affected educationally, such as through lower energy levels. I don't know much about this area, though.
     
  6. Speechy

    Speechy Comrade

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    I think the option should be made available, at least a few healthier alternatives. I think the schools can only do so much to insure that students are eating healthy and making the right choices.

    Basically, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
     
  7. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I think schools need to provide much healthier lunches. The school lunches are often loaded with calories.

    But they shouldn't be responsible, no.
     
  8. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I am not the reason your child is fat. That's all I'm saying on that-- don't get me started on the job some parents do with "raising" their kids.
     
  9. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Most of my students receive free breakfast and lunch. I cannot believe how much of the food is not eaten and is thrown away. They pull out chips, candy, and soda from their backpack. I agree with Speechy. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
     
  10. Speechy

    Speechy Comrade

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    :thumb:
     
  11. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I don't like the idea of blanket bans like this. I'm not a parent, but if my child was an overall healthy eater and I wanted to send a cookie along with her (turkey wrap and fruit), that would be VERY different from a child bringing a bag of chips, a candy bar, and a pop.
     
  12. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    WIC is a different program than federal food stamps (SNAP). WIC is for Women and Infants and encourages the purchase of healthful foods.

    I wrote my congressman about getting pop and candy off the list of approved "foods" and he sent me a pile of "research" done by the junk food industry saying that SNAP recipients do not use their benefits to buy too much junk food.

    I think the junk food industry has too much control over the federal laws.




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  13. Speechy

    Speechy Comrade

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    I have the same issues with this idea as well. if I had a child and wanted to send them to school with a can of soda or a cupcake to go with their lunch, then I would be hella upset that the school restricting what I could pack my child to eat. I think that is a bit much.

    That's why I believe it should be an option.
     
  14. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    And that goes back to the issue of whether it's the school's responsibility or not.

    And what do the schools do when many of the students are bringing in mostly junk food?
     
  15. Speechy

    Speechy Comrade

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    The schools could ban junk food and provide healthier options, but that doesn't mean that child would continue those habits at home.

    And who is to stop them from putting the food in their backpack and eating it before school or after? Would no junk food be allowed on school grounds at all?

    And obesity isn't just a problem in children, but in adults too. Would teachers and staff also not allowed to have junk food? To set an example and act as a role model?

    How about the students who are not obese or unhealthy?

    I just don't see how it would be enforceable. I'm all for the schools offering a wide variety of foods other than just junk, but I just don't think all of the responsibility should be placed on the shoulders of the school system.

    If a student wants to indulge in a bit of junk food, they will find a way, banned or otherwise.
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    There should be healthier school lunches. For sure.

    But...please. Responsible for obesity? No.
     
  17. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Interesting Tyler B - thanks for the clarification!
     
  18. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    In Texas, they can buy soda with a LoneStar card. Yesterday, I was behind a fifteen year old who did just that. She did buy milk and formula for her baby so I didn't mutter anything under my breath.

    Plus, my campus is well over ninety percent free/reduced lunch, but somehow the kids can bring a big bag of Cheetos and an entire bag of Oreos for a "snack" every day.
     
  19. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    We have a school store that sells ice cream, junk food, and sugary drinks. The only healthy item they sell is water. The kids love it, but I hate it.
     
  20. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    That is such a good point! We do allow treats in class, but I have been to many, many schools where the students could not even bring cupcakes for their birthday yet there was always some sort of junk out in the faculty lounge.

    I also wouldn't appreciate a ban on all junk food. Healthy eating is about eating in moderation. Kids need to know it's okay to eat one cupcake or to have a treat to celebrate a birthday. I feel like a lot of schools go too far to one side or the other. My parents always packed me healthy lunches with some sort of "treat" (a cookie, some goldfish, etc.) in there too.
     
  21. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    While schools can promote healthy lunches and try and serve healthier food, it is not the schools job to do what the parent should be doing. It is not the schools job to make sure a child is being healthy and taking care of themselves. That is a parents job, and a parent who does not do that, should not be a parent.
     
  22. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Callmebob, I swear I'm not trying to start stuff with you, as I know we've been in a debate on the other thread :). But, I'm not sure there are absolute definitions of parent responsibility vs. school responsibility. There are historical roles, but who is to say those couldn't change? For example, if a school provides an after-school program and homework is done there, is that stepping in and doing the job of a family? What about a school that attempts to secure private funding for a field trip for kids who's families can't pay (despite families in other schools paying for that field trip)? What about schools that organize holiday toy drives to support families in getting Christmas presents for their kids?

    Even if the school were to assume some of the role of a family, is there something morally or ethically wrong with that? What about when a church steps in and provides some of those roles?
     
  23. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I agree that there is not an absolute definition. Every specific situation probably has to be looked at and a decision be made. When it comes to the health of children (child obesity in particular), I believe this is where parents need to step in and have their children on a healthy diet, healthy play and exercise schedule, and overall be mindful of their own children. Schools already do a lot as it is, more does not need to be put on their plate.
     
  24. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I do agree that parents should step up, but in their absence I think schools can play a role. I also agree with you that schools have a lot on their plate, and to the extent that it would take away from their ability to do the rest of their jobs as teachers, I'm with you - things have to prioritized. Would you agree that, if teachers/schools had the time available time and resources, it would be good for them to help children be healthier?
     
  25. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Fat people used to be jolly; now they're disdained pariahs. Are we calling this progress?!

    Fat Power!

    (No, I am not fat, though I have the bones of Triceratops.)
     
  26. Mathemagician

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    It's certainly tough. I think it's important for schools to TRY, but all out bans will simply make the bad foods more tempting. My aunt tried to raise her kids without giving them sweets of anything like that. Now that they are in high school, they indulge all the more as a result. We want what we can't have. I think it is most important to teach students how to use these sugars and fats responsibly.
     
  27. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    I see it at 7-11

     
  28. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    I believe that most obesity is George Bush's fault, and that only intensive research-based governmental intervention under the leadership of a Community Organizer working with social scientists can mitigate this problem. Why, just the other day I found an M&M on a desk here. I called the Stasi in, and...well, let's just say there'll be no more problems with that fat little sociopath!
     
  29. Miss Beazly

    Miss Beazly Rookie

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    I think I love you. :)
     
  30. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I don't think we are responsible, but I do think if we are offering kids food, we need to look at what we are offering. Food is fuel. I am appalled at what our kids are served most of the time. Additionally, I think we have to be careful about what we give the kids in school. An occasional treat is ok now and then but I think of all the parties we had when I was in school - every single holiday, big or small, was a junk food fest. I just don't think that is necessary and it doesn't teach good habits.
     
  31. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Eating an apple first? That doesn't undo the calories of eating pizza or the sugar content of a doughnut. That reminds me of people I know who "diet" by eating a salad for supper and then Oreos for a "treat." You can't avoid obesity by eating healthy food in addition to junk food. You've got to eliminate the junk food entirely.

    See, this is the problem. We first have to be knowledgeable about nutrition before we start enforcing rules.
     
  32. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Get'm out in the countryside where the food is fresh and wholesome.

    Yours in solidarity, Pol Pot
     
  33. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Yes, agreed.
     
  34. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. - Mark Twain
     
  35. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I agree that if teachers/schools have the capability to EDUCATE students on how to be healthier, that is definitely a good thing. For example, we do a science/health unit on healthy eating, the food pyramid (before they changed it), creating a balanced menu, etc. We have a "fruit and veggie party" where the kids bring in a fruit or veggie for everyone to try, and many discover that they love mangos or yellow peppers.

    Banning all junk-food does not make students lead a healthy lifestyle, nor does seeing a teacher eat a donut one day make them obese...
     
  36. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    We do have the healthy lunch policy here. If we see kids with something unhealthy, we're allowed to take it away. But we allow small treats with healthy lunches. The problem is when a kid brings in a McDonald's bag for lunch, which honestly doesn't happen that often. Parents really like the healthy food rules and mostly obey it.

    I think stating that kids could still eat unhealthy foods doesn't have anything to do with the rule. They could still cheat on tests, but that's still not allowed, right? They still skip school. They still get in fights. Kids break rules, that's fine. But school is an area where we are supposed to encourage healthy learning and living styles. I think food and exercise is a pretty integral part of that.

    Also, our teachers also have to bring healthy foods. I've never seen a teacher here with any junk foods or a soda. They could get in trouble too.
     
  37. Tangerine

    Tangerine Rookie

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    But I can't stand the taste of fresh veggies. What will become of me? :(
     
  38. Tangerine

    Tangerine Rookie

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    Right. I work at Head Start and we have a healthy eating policy as well and our foods are generally healthy. It helps that we serve the youngest children because the earlier these habits are instilled the better, and that we encourage movement and outdoor play. I feel that this kind of policy might be more difficult as children get older though. Like you said, kids break rules. ;)

    I think all schools should be required to serve healthy foods. And, as amakaye said a couple posts earlier, we can definitely educate kids on healthy living, and make healthy foods available to them while they're in the building. You can lead a horse to water, you know?
     
  39. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    One thing we should all consider is the power of our endorsement (or perceived endorsement). Pepsi gave our school district millions to get permission to put in pop machines in every school cafeteria. These are only available to students before and after school (they make NO money on these), but Pepsi loves having a huge, lit up advertisement in each school. Kids trust their teachers and pay close attention to what we endorse.

    For this reason, we should not sell or provide unhealthy snack foods to our students since they may interpret this as an endorsement. We should only offer healthful foods to students.




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  40. Miss Beazly

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    I think the idea of teachers being the nutrition police is going way too far. It's really none of my business what a family feeds their children as long as they are being fed.
    For that matter, 90% of the school lunches I've seen are far from healthy, I certainly don't eat them. I'm pretty sure the cafeteria workers are not licensed nutritionists, but because their canned slop comes from the government, it's "health food."
     
  41. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think that if we're going to become the nutrition police, then we had better practice what we preach. Othewise we risk losing crediblity in ALL areas, not just this one.

    So no more Starbucks. No Dunkin Donuts or 7-11 coffee. No soda either.

    And teachers who are overweight are subject to the same restrictions and judgements as kids who are.

    And heaven help any teachers who still smoke. No matter how you think you hide it, the kids and your coworkers can tell.

    And isn't it more healthy to take the stairs than the elevator? And isn't chewing gum bad for your teeth?

    Do we really want to go there?
     

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