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Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Fat kids and crappy lunches an issue of "national security"



Mom_schoollunches Fun fact: The U.S. military is responsible for the school lunch program. Back in the 1940s, it was alarmed at how under-nourished the recruit classes were and they urged the nation to start feeding the kids better. Fast forward to these days of bloated bellies and the military is weighing in again saying that obese kids and high-calorie school lunches are a matter of national security.

Not-so-fun fact: Almost one-third,  27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24, are too fat to join the military. Retired officers were on Capitol Hill this week advocating for passage of a wide-ranging nutrition bill that aims to make the nation's school lunches healthier.

A report released this week by the military group Mission: Readiness says weight problems are now the leading medical reason that recruits are rejected, and thus jeopardize the military's ability to fill its ranks.

I think this might meet some resistance in a tough budget climate. I don't think school lunches are the reason kids are obese, but I think what they can do is set up a mindset in the kids of what is good food and why it's important. Kids sometimes listen better to teachers than they do their own parents and like the anti-smoking efforts, they can take these lessons home and start pestering their parents about eating better.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made this one of her pet projects, and some schools in the Tampa Bay area have made a concerted effort to fight obesity. But isn't this more of an issue at home than at school?

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:06am]


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