Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Schoolchildren WILL Eat Healthy Lunches

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, August 31, 2009

Great news for parents: Schoolchildren are willing to eat healthy lunches. The days of corn dogs, tater tots, sloppy joes and french fries are slowly being replaced with apple slices, turkey hot dogs and vegetables.

For years people have underestimated children’s willingness to eat healthier foods and schools’ ability to produce appealing, nutritious lunch options. According to a recent University of Minnesota study, school lunch sales don’t decline when healthier meals are served. Children will eat fruits and vegetables if they are presented to them. Moreover, nutritious lunches don’t necessarily cost schools more to produce.

The research, published in the Review of Agricultural Economics, evaluated five years of data involving 330 Minnesota public school districts to determine compliance with federal standards for calories, nutrients and fats. Results suggested that nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables are actually less costly than processed foods, which offsets the higher labor costs involved with producing healthier lunches.

Change is always tough – to make healthy lunches a reality, many school districts will have to adjust by upgrading their kitchens and training their staff to prepare fresh, whole foods in bulk. But if the results achieved in Minnesota can be replicated on a national level, healthy eating at school can finally be a regular part of American life.

To Your Health, January, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 01)

Dr. Gray’s comments: You want to show me real “health care reform?” This study was done two years ago and many other similar studies have proven this again and again. For years, we’ve known that providing healthier meals to our schoolchildren actually costs the school district less than providing processed, enriched, frozen, crap. We’ve also known that, although they complain, kids prefer the healthier meals to the other crap. Do you know the number one health affliction in our kids today? … Obesity. Why? Because we are feeding them crap! They’re getting processed, enriched, sugary, artificial junk that their bodies don’t recognize as real food. And we’ve known this for years! But how many of your kids continue to get lunches consisting of chicken nuggets, tater tots, rectangular pizzas, and nachos? Next time someone from the government says they want to “improve health care” in this country, ask them why they won’t improve what they’re already doing before they try to screw the rest of it up!

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