Sunday, May 9, 2010

Potpourri: School Food News Roundup

Mexico, which has an even worse obesity problem than the U.S., is on a path to ban junk foods from school and require at least 30 minutes of physical exercise for school children.

The Mexican legislature's lower house approved the measures based on figures showing that obesity in the country has tripled over the last 30 years. Some 70 percent of Mexican children between the ages of five and 11 are classified as overweight. A 2006 health survey found that 40 percent of Mexicans are obese.


Major food companies that promised to cooperate with Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign to combat child obesity may be getting cold feet. A report in Bloomberg Newsweek says that a recent meeting between food industry representatives and the Food and Drug Administration turned testy when the FDA said it wants measures to force complliance with healthier food objectives.

The FDA is considering "red-light, green-light" labeling on package fronts, or possibly a five-star ranking system, to help consumers quickly determine whether a product is healthy or not. The agency wants companies to voluntarily agree to front-of-package standards by the fall and has "not ruled out regulatory approaches" to force compliance, says Michael R. Taylor, the FDA's commissioner for foods.


In a recent column in the San Francisco Chronicle, Marion Nestle lays out all the ways the sugar industry has blocked standards that might otherwise control the amount of sugar kids get in school meals.

U.S. Department of Agiculture rules regulate just about everything pertaining to school meals, including tight restrictions on fat and the servings of grains, meats and fruits and vegetables children should be served. But the greatest danger to children's health may come from all the sugar they eat--especially at breakfast, with all those candied cereals, Pop-Tarts and chocolate milk they're served. So far, there's no regulation covering all that sugar at all.


Introducing healthier foods to children and explaining why some foods are better than others is one of the toughest challenges parents face. Here's one dad struggling to figure out where he's gone wrong and why his kids aren't foodie gourmets.

Of course he hasn't done anything wrong. He just hasn't accepted that where food is concerned, kids often have a mind of their own.


Finally, Ann Cooper, the "renegade lunch lady," gave some excellent tips on her blog for parents who want to change the school food in their community. Get active in your local school! Connect with the national movement for change! Voice your concerns to Congress!

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