The argument as to whether or not schools should be able to sell junk food is a highly controversial topic. Sugar-filled snacks, sugary drinks, and snacks high in saturated fat are a favorite among children. In most cases, when faced with the decision, a child will no doubt choose a bag of chips over an apple. What would a change in the availability of these snacks teach children? Some argue that removing these snacks from schools takes away parental rights, but a parent should want what is best for their child.
Although the selling of unhealthy foods serves as a source for additional revenue for schools, school administrators should ban the sale of items that promote an unhealthy lifestyle. Not only does junk food cause unhealthy eating habits that lead to child hood obesity, but it also contributes to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and various forms of cancer. Undeniably the adding of vending machines in order to sell soda and junk food in our schools would generate more funding for our schools, but at what price? Children’s obesity rates are higher than they ever been. The American Obesity Association estimates that 15 percent of children between six and nineteen suffer from obesity (Lee and Sprague 2). These numbers are only going to increase with the help of snacks in schools. A 2002 study showed that ? of schools were using vending machines and 98% of vending machines consist of junk food (Lee 2). A solution to the problem would be placing healthier choices inside vending machines such as nuts, dried fruit, and yogurt. This way everyone wins. The schools will still raise necessary funds and the students will learn good eating habits.
Another way of helping the students stay healthy is if schools banned all fried foods and start off with other smaller changes such as using low fat cheese on burgers and pizzas, switching from white bread to 100% wheat bread, using all natural jelly on the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and 1% milk is always a good idea (“Food Fight” 3). These are small changes that the students will benefit from. As long as you give children options, they will be happy. For example, one mother from NJ offered her very picky toddler fruits and vegetables every day on the child’s plate with every meal, but did not force the child to eat them.
Every day the child shoved them away. Eventually the child began to try them without being asked. That child is now thirteen and eats a large variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. If children have healthy food around them all the time, they will most likely try it. The schools can still make money off of the healthy snacks. A Washington Township School in New Jersey utilizes a program called “Market Day” to help subsidize their budget. It is a day set aside once a month where parents of the students are able to purchase meals, sides, or even deserts.
This generates money for the school without even attending. Programs like this one can be an alternative to offering our youth unhealthy snacks. The National School Lunch Program Implemented in 1946, ensures that the students are supplied with a minimum of at least one nutritious hot meal a day. Jelly-filled doughnuts and soda were not what they had in mind. These provide children with absolutely no nutritional value. Children love snacks and giving them free reign of them will only promote unhealthy eating habits.
Children have been known to use their lunch money their parents give them to purchase junk food and skip buying lunch altogether. The parents have no clue this is going on and just assume their children are receiving lunch. Teenagers are likely to grab a quick snack at times when they are running late or they just want to be quick to hang out with friends. Some will grab something out of vending machines since it is cheaper. That way they can spend the leftover money on cigarettes or for alcohol for weekend parties. Some schools have started a pin system.
This is an account that the parents place money in to be used only for lunch unless otherwise specified. This helps eliminate these problems since the children have to put in a pin number to purchase their food and no change is given back to the child. In 2005, the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with 22 other state officials tried to ban the sale of junk food and soda in all public schools by proposing over 200 bills for healthier food in our schools along with new guidelines that would limit the amount of sugar, fat, and sodium that were allowed in the school lunches.
Schwarzenegger also was responsible for making sure the breakfast program contained fruits and vegetables with every meal. The Senator of Iowa, Tom Harkin “introduced the Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention (HeLP) America Act. ” This Act was to eliminate junk food and guarantee that vending machines are required to have the same nutritional standards as the cafeteria food. Lobbyists of food and beverage industries strongly opposed these bills and the bills were never signed (Ballaro1). It is known that an average teenager consumes more than 200 pounds of candy every year (Sexton19).
This number is way too high. With obesity being the leading cause of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers, there needs to be a significant change in children’s eating habits. If not, we are going to see a decline in the average human life expectancy. Type 2 diabetes causes an increased chance of loss of limb, blindness, and organ failure until death. The chances of onset type 2 “diabetes is 93 times greater if the BMI is 35 kg/m2. BMI is the measure of the body fat based on an individual’s height and weight” (Barnes).
A BMI over 30 is considered obese, which is weighing approximately 20% more than their ideal weight. Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, was responsible for 452,327 fatal heart attacks in 2004. That was just in the United States. Obesity also increases your chance of getting breast cancer. There are about 33,000 cases a year caused by obesity alone. Some other related cancers are endometrial, kidney, colorectal, pancreas, esophagus, and gallbladder (Hellmich) The overwhelming question is, why are these laws not being passed?
This affects the well-being of children everywhere. Why wait until we lose more children to diabetes, cancer and heart disease? Some argue that if the schools banned junk food in the cafeteria and in vending machines that it takes parental rights away and also allows the government to mandate what people are permitted to eat. People say “Big Brother” shouldn’t have the say of what we eat and drink, but in reality they do (Jacobs 3). Schools are governmentally run, so they are in fact responsible for the well-being of the child.
Some also say the answer would be to increase the amount of extracurricular programs that involve children in exercise and the obesity rates would then decrease. If the schools have a hard time with their budget now, how can they afford to add these programs? Even if they are successful and getting programs up and running, who is to say that the children are going to actually be motivated to join and participate in them? The kids with weight issues are less likely to join any sport activity because it is harder for them and the chances of them being ridiculed are greater, so this is not a guaranteed solution.
There is an obvious solution to the problem that will make everyone happy. If the schools would only offer healthy choices to the students and still allow the parents to pack what they feel is nutritious, then the parents still have control and the schools are still advocating a healthy lifestyle. If a child doesn’t like what is for lunch or snack that day then the parents can always pack them a lunch. No one is making them buy the lunch that the school is supplying.
Don’t take away the parents choices to give their children what they want them to have, but enforce the schools to supply healthy food. They can’t purchase what is not there; “out of sight out of mind”. If the child does buy anything, you can be assured that he or she is getting a well-balanced nutritional meal. This will not be the answer to childhood obesity and all the diseases that derive from it, but it is a step in the right direction. One that is overdue.
Ballaro, BeverlyGriswold, Ann. "Junk Food In Schools: An Overview. Points Of View: Junk Food In Schools (2011): 1. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. Barnes, Ann Smith. "The Epidemic Of Obesity And Diabetes. " Texas Heart Institute Journal 38. 2 (2011): 142-144. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. "Food Fight! Should School Lunches Be Healthier?. " Current Events 105. 19 (2006): 3. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. Jacobs, W. E. Carson-Dewitt, Rosalyn. "Counterpoint: The Government Should Not Tell Students What They Are Allowed To Eat And Drink. Points Of View: Junk Food In Schools (2011): 3. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. Lee, Deborah and Nancy, Sprague, "Point: Public Schools Should Not Be Permitted To Sell Junk Food To Students. " Points Of View: Junk Food In Schools (2011): 2. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. Nanci, Hellmich. "Obesity linked to specific cancers. " USA Today n. d. : Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. Sexton, Josie. "High Price For Cheap Snacks. " Teen Ink 14. 8 (2003): 19. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.