Monday, December 03, 2007

Effort to Limit Junk Food in Schools Faces Hurdles

Published: December 2, 2007

Whether the measure, an amendment to the farm bill, can survive the convoluted politics that have bogged down that legislation in the Senate is one issue. Whether it can survive the battle among factions in the fight to improve school food is another.

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, has twice introduced bills to deal with foods other than the standard school lunch, which is regulated by Department of Agriculture.

Several lawmakers and advocates for changes in school food believe that an amendment to the $286 billion farm bill is the best chance to get control of the mountain of high-calorie snacks and sodas available to schoolchildren. Even if the farm bill does not pass, Mr. Harkin and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, a sponsor of the amendment, vow to keep reintroducing it in other forms until it sticks.

They are optimistic about their chances because there is more public interest than ever in improving school food and because leaders in the food and beverage industry have had a hand in creating the new standards.

But that intense corporate involvement, along with exemptions that would allow sales of chocolate milk, sports drinks and diet soda, has caused a rift among food activists who usually find themselves on the same side of school food battles.

“This pits ideals about what children should eat at school against the political reality of large food corporations insisting their foods be available to children at all times,” said Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University and the author of two recent books on food politics and diet. “The activists want vending machines out of schools completely.” Dr. Nestle has taken no public stand on the measure.

The nutrition standards would allow only plain bottled water and eight-ounce servings of fruit juice or plain or flavored low-fat milk with up to 170 calories to be sold in elementary and middle schools. High school students could also buy diet soda or, in places like school gyms, sports drinks. Other drinks with as many as 66 calories per eight ounces could be sold in high schools, but that threshold would drop to 25 calories per eight-ounce serving in five years.

Food for sale would have to be limited in saturated and trans fat and have less than 35 percent sugar. Sodium would be limited, and snacks must have no more than 180 calories per serving for middle and elementary schools and 200 calories for high schools.

The standards would not affect occasional fund-raising projects, like Girl Scout cookie sales.
Although states would not be able to pass stronger restrictions, individual school districts could.
The rules have the support of food and drink manufacturers, including the American Beverage Association, which worked closely on the amendment with Mr. Harkin’s office and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that has been critical of the food industry.

“This whole effort has momentum because of the variety of interests that have come together who do not usually find agreement,” said Susan Neely, president of the beverage association.
Some parents and nutritionists are angry that states will not be able to enact even tougher limits.

“My little fights in school districts are just going to be harder and harder because they’ll say, Well, here are the federal guidelines,” said Dr. Susan Rubin of Chappaqua, N.Y., a nutritionist who helped found the Better School Food advocacy group.

“It’s crazy to think we are going to fix children’s health just by letting companies sell schoolchildren smaller portions of Gatorade and baked chips,” she said.

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has long been a critic of companies that produce food that she considers unhealthy and of government policy toward them.

That is why some of the center’s allies were surprised that Ms. Wootan had worked so closely with manufacturers on the standards. Conversely, she was surprised to find herself on the defensive for finally arranging food limits that actually have a good chance at becoming law.

“I do not understand why some groups would try to stand in the way of legislation that is going to get soda, snack cakes and other high-fat, high-salt food out of virtually all schools,” she said.

Who is responsible for this problem? What is Ms. Margo Wootan not understanding?

ps. Don't forget to vote in the poll in the top right corner!


Anonymous said...

I think the Department of Agriculture is responsible for this problem because they can actually do something about the school food, especially the vending machines. Ms. Margo Wootan isn't understanding why groups wouldn't want to get high-calorie/fat foods out of the schools.

W Brown said...

What groups don't support the bill?

Anonymous said...

The people that like to eat them.

Durkhanai A. said...

It is the parents fault at first because they give them all different types of foods when they are young and they will gain weight and when they get older and they go to school they will see that they sell chips and soda and they will continue to eat how they have been eating at home. So in order to help stop limit junk food I think that the best way to start is by getting our schools to serve more healtier foods. Like we talked in class is it the guys fault in the deli for selling candy and chips to children? Can there be a way to stop all junk food and make them more healthier??

Samantha Ross said...

I disagree with Durkhanai I feel it is the media’s fault for young child becoming obese. All the food companies target kids using advertisement that appeals to what ever age group. But I do agree with Durkhanai with the fact to change the way children eat is in school. As Mr. Brown said in school, when the child gets the school becomes the child’s family. And the purpose of a family is to support, encourage and keep safe. But by the school feeding kids I don't how they are doing and of that. I feel in school kids need to have a nutrition class and in school have a monitored health lunch and breakfast. Yes, when the kids get out of school and go out and do what ever it is up to them what they eat, but if they are taught what is good from bad they will be able to make a good decision. But if the problem is not dealt with now, it will on get worse. But how can we get everybody on board on changing the feeding people’s eating habits?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tiffany and durkhannai. At times it is the parents fault for overfeeding their children but at a certain age the child knows what he/she is eating and how it affects them. I dont think the people selling the chips and cookies aren't to blame as much because their just tryng to make money just like anyone else. It isn't their responsibility to tell someone what to eat. Thats just what I think.

-Bryan S.

Alyssa Cumberbatch said...

I agree with Durkhani. The parents are to blame when a child becomes obese. At such a young age, children cannot prepare their own food. They rely on the parents who give in to the childs every want. Some may say that its the medias fault that children become obese. But again it goes back to the parents who buy it for the children. It starts when children are at ages 2-5 years. Thats where parents have most control to begin healthy eating. If they don't take the approach and don't give in to their children's begging for food that isn't good for them, or eventually lead to obesity, then when people grow up its only up to them to make the right decision amoung their eating habbits.

-Alyssa Cumberbatch

Anonymous said...

i think that its parents fault that children are the way they are because they don't limit down to what they should be eating they just let them eat about anything they want and never keep in touch on what there eating. But reading and talking in class bout what schools and the workers are doing about the food and junk candy being sold there actually doing a great job because we need to be healthy in schools because so many problems are occurring with people bodies and many are getting sicken. kristal atchison

Anonymous said...

it really doesnt makes sense to feed children healthy food because they eat tons of junk food no matter what. Is it right what there doing in school with the healthy issue or is it just a waste of there time? kristal atchison

W Brown said...

Since tax payer money has to support these obese kids when they grow up to be obese adults isn't in the best interest of the schools to only dish out nutritious meals to the students? In a purely economic sense it will cost society. The more junk food we serve today, the more health problems our society will have to pay for in the future.

Anonymous said...

i think the people that are responsible is actually the parents because if you teach a child to eat right at a young age, the child will continue with that process. The child in not responsible for stealing something when they don't even know it is bad. This expression means a child should be taught how to eat in order to make wiser decisions about the food. Also if it is the media, the parents should be teaching the child it is bad. so as you can see, you shouldn't blame somebody for doing something when you don't even know their background.

-Khizer Hayat

W Brown said...

Excellent point Khizer. Relating the overeating to stealing.

manpreet kaur said...

This article reminds me of a movie I watched in another class, about a man who was completely fit and healthy who was challenged toeat fast-food and see the effects of it. Well, it turned out he became obese, and he proved that eating junk food can be unhealthy & obese. I agree with Samantha Ross that the media is responsible for this problem. Since, many children look at cartoon characters and other ads for food and it makes them want to eat that junk food shown on the t.v.
I think making laws won't make a big differnce, because the child themself has to decide to make a change. For example, if a teenager gets a bad grade, tha's because they didn't work hard enough on "their own". They can get help, but that's not enough, until they make an effort on their own. Same for this situation,the teenager has to decide for themselves that eating junk food is not right.
Ms. Margo doesn't understand, “I do not understand why some groups would try to stand in the way of legislation that is going to get soda, snack cakes and other high-fat, high-salt food out of virtually all schools,” she said.

manpreet kaur said...

Rep. Randy Forbes has signed on as a co-sponsor to the “Commonsense Consumption Act” (aka The Cheeseburger Bill), which would block obesity lawsuits against restaurants, including fast-food chains. He is a person that opposes this act.

W Brown said...

Thanks for the link and the research!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bryan. It's kind of the parents fault for giving them food that makes them gain weight. I think that it's not anyone else's fault because people are just trying to make money by selling junk food. It's not like the kid's are being forced to buy the food. They buy it own their own and the don't keep track of what they eat, So they become obese.
-Simran Kaur

Anonymous said...

I think it is the parents fault because they had a choice to give their kids healthy or unhealthy food, and if they chose unhealthy food then when the kids get older they will most likely to be fat. As they get older they have the influence in school to eat chips and soda just because they sell it and other kids are eating it. I think the schools should serve much more healthier foods because selling junk food will just make things worse as time passes. I agree with what Mr. Brown said, "In a purely economic sense it will cost society. The more junk food we serve today, the more health problems our society will have to pay for in the future." Us teenagers specially should know the difference, if we want to be healthy then we have to eat healthy. Ms.Margo isn't understanding why some groups would try to stand in the way of legislation that is going to get all these junk food out of virtually all schools.

-Anta R.

Vickie said...

I honestly don't think the obesity of our nation has been caused by the fattening foods we are eating. Do you honestly think our parents weren't served greasy chips and soda in their cafeterias at school. The major difference between then and now is physical activity. Years ago parents would let their kids out the door in the morning and they would play until dinner. These days kids do not have nearly the same amount of physical activity. Technology, suchh as television and computers have turned us into a generation of sitters, just sitting around all day and not burning any calories. It is not all technologies fault though, our world is not as safe as it used to be. We live in a world where children are abcucted and kidnapped everyday, this makes parents reluctant to let their kids outside to do physcial activites.
Margo Wootan must also keep in mind that many schools make a lot of money off of the unhealthy foods they sell in the cafeteria. Large food companies pay schools money to have their products sold in schools. This money is greatly appreciated by schools that are always in need of money.
Would we be willing to lose extra-curiculars and other programs funded by the large food companies to have kids eat healthy in school,when they are just going to home and eat the same unhealthy foods from the large food companies?

M. Harmon said...

I agree with Alyssa Cumberbatch and Khizer. The parents are the ones to blame when a child becomes obese. When children are very young, they depend on their parents for food. If a parent doesnt choose healthy choices for their child, those habits will continue on later in life when the child is old enough to provide its own food.
Some people say its the medias fault for obesity. I totally disagree. Just because something is being advertised on television or where ever, doesnt mean you have to buy it. I think people are just putting the blame elsewhere so it makes them seem like the victims.
Ms. Margo Wootan is not understanding that the companies who make the "junk food" that is sold in schools have to make their money. Its not their fault that children are taking advantage of this opportunity and purchasing large amounts of the food. The food would be so much less unhealthy if kids didnt buy so much of it.

Octavia Ramos said...

I agree with both durkhanai and samantha. I think it's the media and the parents fault. My reasoning for this is first off when a child is little who decides the eating habits of their child a parent, and if you let your child know at an early age that no this food is not good for you then they are going to get accustmed to that life style because many parents all over the world do that with their children and thety come out fine it's all about structure in the home. Secondly the media does play a big part in obesity today because they draw children in by making their favorite cartoon characters on a box of donuts and etc's. and the main people doing this and making children obeseturn around and say we have to do something about how children are not eating healthy foods but yet they are supporting and advertising it to children. Everyone is to blame dont you agree

Anonymous said...

I agree with vickie and megan. I think we all can agree that a large portion is the parents fault, theres no doubt about that but can anyone point fingers at todays society and the way we are being brought up? Everyday technology changes so much to make us do less work and put less efforts into things which make our generation lazier and lazier. Schools make large sums of money off these fatty foods that they sell, i don't think they would be so quick to get rid of such a profit especially with the pesky media right behind them.

-Alex P

Casey B said...

I feel that the parents are responsible for their kids health because everything starts at home, from them learning to wears his or her clothing to a child having correct manners. Everything always starts at home because that is where they spend most of their time. I agree with all the students who say that it starts at home because it is true that the parents are the ones that decided to give their children healty foods or not.

Sorybel said...

I think you should teach your child how to eat moderate from when their young till they get older and go to school they know whats good and bad. Parents responsibility take big part in their child's weight. But also its media's and vender's fault for making all these commercials on t.v with all these cartoons and that makes kids want it even more. Then they will continue eating like they eat at home. So in order to eliminate all these issues such as young age being over weight or in other words"obesity" we should start having our school serve healthier foods and take away all the junk food away. but i disagree with the parents and the media.

tobin v. said...

I agree with everyone who said that it’s the parents fault for when a child becomes obese. I agree with what Megan said about the children depending upon parents for their food at a young age. If the parents feed their children healthy foods and tell them what’s good and bad for them then they will live healthy all their life. But the part where I disagree with Megan is that the media also plays a major role in making kids obese. I agree totally with what Manpreet had to say about the media involving in making kids obese. Like what we discussed in class, if children see SpongeBob on the front of potato chips bag, they would want to buy the bag of potato chips because SpongeBob is on the cover. So then the parents would buy it for their children because the want to always make them happy and not hear them cry all the time. Therefore this is why I think parents and media cause obesity in young children.

Anonymous said...

I agree with tobin in the sense that the media and parents play the greatest role in obesity in young children but that is only to a certain degree. Once past the age of 11 or 12 you take responsibility of what you consume. If your 18 years old and you eat mcdonalds every day and wonder why your fat or out of shape u need to be checked out. I also believe that if fast food resturants used colorful entertaining advertisments for healthy food people would eat it. Society is to lazy to look into what there putting into there bodys and its there own faults that some are obese.

Matthew Morrison

Wes M. said...

I agree with just about everyone. It is the parents the media’s and the Department of Agriculture fault.

It’s the parents fault for giving them junk food during their youth when they rely on there parents to keep them healthy, but in fact their getting them addicted to junk food to the point where they think it’s good for them.

It’s the media’s fault for having false advertisement. Showing a lot of supermodels and sport figures advertising on junk food commercials to make people want to go out and buy them thinking they can get fame like that or began to look like that and so on.. There is so much advertisement for junk food on just about ever channel at every hour of every day.

The Department of Agriculture is also part to blame also because there the ones that supply the food to the schools and make the money off the junk food eaters. They also decide what goes into the vending machines and other things

Anonymous said...

I agree with Samantha and Vicki. It is the media they make fast food look good. The kids want it and they like it and they ask for it and say but they say its good on the T.V. and they get a toy with the kid’s meal. That really sucks them in to wanting it and it’s the parents fault for allowing them to eat the junk food. If I had kids I would pretty much do what my parents did to my sister, brother, and me. We did not keep soda or any soft drink in the house we only got soda when we went out to dinner or were at a party. They also did not keep chips or any thing like that in the house. All are meals were home made and fresh. They never even gave us baby food. My mom would put things in the blended and make it. I think people to day are getting to lazy and just take the fast and easy way out. You can really find that hard working women anymore cause the generation before us and are generation that are spoiled so much that there parents do every thing for them.

-Kristen Fitz

Anonymous said...

Courteney Richardson

who is really responsible for obese children? do you really think that the blame goes to the school?! no, the school is only making profit off the money the child gives. but the question is, where is the children recieveing the money from?! 10 years old , you can't work so of course your receiving the money from your parents. your parents are supporting the children weight gain. if you give a child money to go to school& the idea of the child ( who is at least 6-10 yrs old) is yo purchase as many snacks as possible. I agree with anyone on this blog if you believe the blame is the parents.

Anonymous said...

After reading the previous posts it seems the majority believe that the parents and guardians are responsible for this dillema.Obesity in children in America is becoming way to common because of the more relaxed approach today's parents have with thier kids. Althought most of your nessacery life schools are taught in the household..television, magazines, billboards...etc and the dept of health should take some of the blame. because if theres one thing that the parents cant control its there being a fast food restaurant on every corner.


Anonymous said...

I agree with what every one said I do thing the media has a little to do with the obesity of kids. But the parents are at fault. They should watch what they feed their kids. They should have control of what their children eat. school should also not sell junk food they should be the one promoting healthy food after all its our second home.

kemi ajirotutu

Anonymous said...

I think the reason obeasity is at a all time high is because there is more promotion for fast food restaurants like Mcdonal's AKA MICKY D'z, Burger king AKA BK, and wendys AKA JUICY burger, where as there is isnt any promotion for working out everynight, or going to the gym. I also think that if a child really wants something like junk food or sweets they would find there way toward the store we only spend about 7 to 8 hrs in school and i think that we really consume all the junk food after school hours, so I dont think that limiting junk food in our school will really make a difference.

Jamaal adams