First lady Michelle Obama has dedicated much of her influence from the White House to combating childhood obesity.
Among her notable if dubious achievements to that end came through her advocacy of lunchroom nutrition standards for the nation’s public schools.
Western Journalism has covered the program’s extensive unpopularity among students, parents and school administrators alike.
Common complaints thus far have included unpalatable meals and high costs resulting from compliance with the new stringent regulations.
The results of a recent Virginia Tech study offer critics new ammunition by suggesting school lunches might be perpetuating the very problem Obama has ostensibly been fighting.
Researchers tracked more than 20,000 students nationwide over the course of their kindergarten through eighth-grade years.
Wen You of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences explained that, according to the school’s research, “these government-funded school meal programs that are aimed at making kids healthy are in fact making participating students more at risk of being overweight.”
The correlation between students eating public school lunches and becoming obese is strengthened, the study indicates, the longer kids remain on such a diet.
Furthermore, You noted, certain segments of the population are even more likely to see such a cause and effect.
“This study identifies the hardest battles in crafting policy to alleviate children in low-income populations being overweight,” she explained.
Geography also plays a role, You explained, noting researchers found “the most negative effect of the government-funded school meal programs in the South, the Northeast and rural areas of the country.”
In light of the new study, You concluded the next step must be what Obama’s nutrition standards were commissioned to do in the first place.
“The question now is what to do in order to not just fill bellies, but make sure those children consume healthy and nutritious food,” she said. ” — or at least not contribute to the obesity epidemic.”
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