The faculty surroundings is a critical in advertising the health of children both nationally and internationally. Owing to the quantity of hours spent in faculty by using children, schools are likely to have an effect on the options of food and feeding behaviors of children. Schools are consequently key settings that can be targeted whilst making dietary interventions concerning the health of children. Public health strategies aimed at decreasing the quotes of obesity amongst faculty going teens have resulted in school-based insurance policies targeting healthful diets. One such instance is the new meal guidelines in the US which had been as a result of reforms in the ‘School Lunch Program’ in a bid to improve the nutritional content of foods served in schools and a result, curb the looming obesity epidemic (Cohen et al., 2014). The final rule in the reforms implemented required schools to offer diets with a nutrition that matches the children’s caloric need, reduction in the overall sodium quantity in meals in addition to an increased provision of vegetables, and fruits, and substitution with whole grains in the diet as opposed to refined grains (Taber et al., 2013). However, the changes made in the regulation of foods served in public schools has its equal share of disadvantages which can have a significant impact on the children and consequently, on the efficiency of the school food policies.
These regulations are burdensome and expensive to the local school districts. The provision of fruits and vegetables besides the substitution of refined grains with whole grains is costly to sustain (Cohen et al., 2014). Besides, the recommended foods are more expensive than the foods which are currently offered in school programs. Cohen et al. (2014) report that the amount of money reimbursed by the federal government for free lunch is not enough to cater for the new standards. Revenues meant for school food services are barely sufficient to provide for the costs accrued by the school districts. In a study by Taber et al. (2013) some schools even resort to salary cuts for their teachers in a bid to cater for the extra costs. Other schools are forced to sell popular less nutritious foods in their cafeteria so as to raise more revenue and cut through financially (Cohen et al., 2014). Funds reimbursed for school meals should, therefore, be increased so as to meet the recommended dietary guidelines. At the local level, supportive policies can be enacted. Local districts should withdraw the indirect charges that are charged to the school meal programs to allow all the revenue to be put back into the provision of recommended food (Taber et al., 2013). As such, that means that the policies at the local school districts that lead to these charges on school programs should be explored and amended appropriately.
There is an increase in food wastage associated with the implementation of school food policies (Taber et al., 2013). Even though the policies may have significant health benefits, it is laborious to force students to eat food that they don’t find acceptable. In a study by Cohen et al. (2014) students were found to discard 55 to 70% of cooked vegetables served to them. Most students cited the reasons as being that they find less greasy food to be less delicious. It was also shown that the mandate to serve a cup of fruit during breakfast might be too much for a young child to consume in one setting resulting in massive plate waste (Cohen et al., 2014). So as to curb this problem, schools should incorporate nutritional education into their school health approach. Taber et al. (2013) found out that it is easier to change the eating pattern of students when environmental changes in their school are coupled with classroom-based lessons on health education focusing on nutrition. The number of hours devoted to teaching about nutrition should be increased combined with staff training on food matters (Taber et al., 2013). It can foster positive youth development as the students will comprehend the need to eat healthily.
However, proper nutrition associated with sound school feeding policies is associated with better academic performance for students. Taber et al. (2013) report that kids who do not acquire the essential nutrients from meals have a corresponding lower intelligence quotient. Besides, their fine motor skills, memory capacities, and their skills in language are impaired. Poor dietary habits can have profound effects on the sleeping patterns, which consequently, affects their cognitive development (Taber et al., 2013). Therefore, feeding them on a nutritious is essential in ensuring that their academic abilities and cognitive behavior are not affected.
Figure 1. The Obesity Epidemic Among School Children and Teens (“Progress on Children Eating More Fruit, Not Vegetables,” 2017)
Undoubtedly, changes made to the regulations governing food administration in public schools are a good idea behind curbing obesity. However, these regulations have their fair share of disadvantages that may render them ineffective in the long run. For example, the problem with the huge costs associated with new regulations with new dietary recommendations and the related food wastage by students. However, despite the cons, the recommendations have advantages that override the disadvantages. Hence, if proper measures are taken to tackle the cons, the program is a big success which can help to deal with obesity among school children.
Cohen, J. F., Richardson, S., Parker, E., Catalano, P. J., & Rimm, E. B. (2014). The impact of the new US Department of Agriculture school meal standards on food selection, consumption, and waste. American journal of preventive medicine, 46(4), 388-394.
Progress on Children Eating More Fruit, Not Vegetables. (2017). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 15 June 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/fruit-vegetables/index.html
Taber, D. R., Chriqui, J. F., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2013). State laws governing school meals and disparities in fruit/vegetable intake. American journal of preventive medicine, 44(4), 365-372.