The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act and Some Random Thoughts

With the signing by the President of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, another small step has been taken in our efforts to curb childhood obesity. From a story in California HealthLine:

The law will generate funds to provide more than 20 million additional after-school meals annually to children from lower-income families in all 50 states.

The law also increases the federal reimbursement rate for no-cost school lunches by six cents a meal and expands access to no-cost lunch and after-school meals programs, according to the AP/Los Angeles Times.

In addition, the law aims to cut down on greasy, high-calorie foods by giving the government authority to decide what kinds of foods may be sold on school grounds, the AP/Times reports.

Read more:

Here are some statistics on childhood obesity from the CDC website:

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.

as a result we are now seeing children with chronic illnesses normally associated only with adults including Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Again from the CDC website:

  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
  • Obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
  • While the passage of this law will have some effect on this issue, more must be done.  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit a large kitchen associated with a school district that will remain unmentioned. I was given a tour by the Registered Dietician who oversaw the meal planning.  Upon entering I noticed a wonderful smell of cinnamon throughout the facility and commented on it.  She said “wait until you see the beautiful cinnamon buns we prepare fresh ever morning, 20,000 of them”, as I passed the machine that was covering the large buns (think Cinnabon size), with the sugar frosting, she added “we’ve made progress with these cinnamon buns by changing the ingredients a bit and slightly lowering the sugar.” While this is all well and good, I was still a bit stunned. Are large cinnamon buns how 20,000 school children in that district begin their day?

    And what about the children after they leave school, will they come home to a fast food meal loaded with calories, fat and salt? How about their weekends and summer?

    We have a cultural issue that will require a cultural shift, similar to the Keep America Beautiful Campaign and our efforts against tobacco use; obesity needs to be looked at in the same way.  The cheap cost and convenience of fast foods, loss of family dinners, two parents required to work, one parent homes,  lack of access to healthy and affordable foods, nutrition education, reduction in school based physical fitness programs, computer and video games, our reliance on motorized vehicles for transportation, and many other areas all play a role.

    The Let’s Move campaign, this new law and other efforts must be combined to get the outcomes we seek. In the end we should provide parents with the education and access to healthy foods in a culturally appropriate way, while they have a role to play as well. Parent’s need to make the right choices for themselves and their children (wonder what the PTA or other parents thinks of the cinnamon buns for breakfast?). Everyone needs to be in the game, we can do better.

    About Fred Goldstein

    President and Founder of Accountable Health, LLC. My background includes over 25 years of health care experience in hospital administration, health plan management, disease management and population health.
    This entry was posted in Diabetes, Obesity, Preventive Medicine, Smoking, Uncategorized, Wellness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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