LET’S MOVE – America’s Move To Raise A Healthier Generation Of Kids
The Michelle Obama lead initiative to fight obesity in America is “Let’s Move”.
Let’s Move, describes that it will:
1.Give parents the support they need
2.Provide healthier food in schools
3.Help our kids be more physically active
4.Make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.
Let’s take a look at each of these sections. I am going to jump to healthier food in schools because this is such an important and also such a difficult one to achieve.
The Let’s Move website that discusses healthier schools begins with some very compelling background information such as many children consume at least half of their daily calories at school. The site then serves as a call to action for schools and communities to provide healthier school lunches and breakfast. The part of this is what is called the Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC), which is established to “recognize schools that are creating healthier school environments through promotion of good nutrition and physical activity.” To be certified as an HUSSC school the school must meet certain criteria. The most important of which appear to be that lunches are offered demonstrate healthy menu planning and principles of the dietary guidelines for Americans and that meet USDA nutrition standards.
The overall initiative is described is one that partners with the US Department of Agriculture as well as major school food suppliers who have agreed to some changes in the meals provided and to meet standards from the Institute of Medicine within five years. There is also a commitment mentioned to double the amount of produce that is served within ten years. A proposal to add a billion dollars per year to help improve school lunches and update the Child Nutrition Act is also mentioned. It takes some digging, but ultimately this leads to a link of the Institute of Medicine recommendations about the nutrition facts recommended for school lunches and breakfast. Following the links and going down into the specifics of the nutrient contents that are recommended, one finds a very disappointing emphasis on dietary fat and very little actual mention of the main culprit of the childhood obesity epidemic, the increased consumption of simple carbohydrates. The recommendations for calorie targets are reasonable and beneath the calorie targets for specific nutrient guidelines, once again, indicate what percentage of the calorie consumption should come in the form of fats. A range of vitamins also are discussed.
While these guidelines in general will be helpful at providing some specific targets that would avoid the very overly calorie dense meals available at school lunches and breakfast, they offer an awfully bureaucratic and old fashioned kind of approach. Let’s all be clear, a massive health problem is occurring because kids are consuming massive amounts of carbohydrates. So to solve that it seems to me that schools need to, yes, create healthy breakfasts and lunches with reasonable calorie limitations, but should point out in glaring, big, bold letters that the carbohydrate content needs to be reduced. Secondly, an analysis of how children are then consuming the “extra” carbohydrate calories will lead to some additional solutions, such as replacing the soft drink vending machines and eliminating the availability of high carbohydrate snacks and treats and replacing them with healthier choices.
Look, I realize this is the Federal Government and it is the same government that has been subsidizing the production of high fructose corn syrup due to incomprehensible political machinations. But, our nation’s kids are getting fat and developing type 2 diabetes and the primary cause appears to be an increased consumption of simple carbohydrates. Let’s just shine a giant spotlight on the main problem and not get too distracted with all this Byzantine bureaucracy and the emphasis on an old fashioned food pyramid and a nonsensical obsession with dietary fat.
I applaud Michelle Obama for highlighting this issue and for adding the weight of her office to it. I know that much good can come of her and the President’s investment in this problem and then finding a solution for it. Focusing on healthier meals in schools is a critical step and their leadership is greatly appreciated. I am disappointed that the website on this highly important topic gives a very complex and diluted message that ultimately is backed up by a big, outdated bureaucratic notion and fails to unambiguously wag a finger at the massive carbohydrate consumption problem. We will look at more of these initiatives in future blog posts.