Americans are undeniably getting fatter by the decade with the latest reports showing that more than half of U.S. adults in most states are now obese. In the face of such staggering statistics, one state governor is taking an unconventional stand. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has issued a weight loss challenge this week in an attempt to get Kansans more aware of their health.
According to Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser, M.D., the obesity rate in Kansas is near the national average. The state has seen a sizable increase in obesity as rates among adults have increased from 15 percent in 1995 to 30.1 percent in 2010. In addition, nearly one-third of all children are overweight or obese.
For this reason, and by his own initiative, Brownback is declaring an official weight loss challenge for stat employees that will take place between January 15 and May 15, 2013.
“My hope is that the Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge will encourage everyone to work together to make our state healthier,” said the governor in an official press release. “I am challenging teams of five people to compete against my team of five to lose the most percentage weight, with the ultimate goal of taking on and maintaining a healthier lifestyle for years to come.” (more…)
The new school lunch guidelines may seem like a great way to help get our nation’s children leaner and healthier, but it already has some students up in arms.
Among those in protest are students at Wallace County High in Sharon Springs, Kansas who created a parody video called “We Are Hungry” – a spin-off of the song “We Are Young.” The video conveys that the new 850 calorie lunch restriction has left them hungry. Apparently, they aren’t the only ones who think so. Since posting the video to YouTube last week it’s already received nearly 500,000 views.
The video shows students who start to feel hungry just hours after lunch and are left too famished to complete the day’s studies and sports activities. The intro even states: “Active teens require between 2,000 to 5,000 calories a day to meet energy and growth needs,” suggesting the new calorie limit falls short on providing what they actually require.
Wallace County High English teacher Linda O’Connor helped the students write the new lyrics. The teacher told TODAY that she wanted to help them; she genuinely felt bad for students who were looking at their lunch plates “incredulously” and wanting more food. “Like, ‘Is this really what we’re being served?’ It was the lack of protein and the entree that really hit hard for them,” she said. (more…)
School lunches and childhood obesity are hot topics this year and as they should be. The current stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in every five children are obese. That’s a clear picture that our kids need more help. The lunch standards are being changed and now the standards for food outside the cafeteria are being challenged.
It’s estimated that $2.3 billion in snack foods and drinks are sold each year in our schools. The Obama administration is set to propose a change in what is sold in vending machines and school snack stores. The new standards are expected in a few weeks. Experts assume that the new guidelines will mirror those of the school lunch standards: reduction of sugar, salt, and fat amounts.
There are many impacted by these changes. Schools may face restrictions on school fundraisers, as many sell candy and sweets to raise money for sports, music, and art programs. Food and beverage companies fear that the guidelines will be too strict and they will lose revenue if they can’t sell in the schools. Many companies feel they’ve made changes to their inventory to reflect the need for healthier foods.
A four year old student in North Carolina was not allowed to eat the lunch her mother packed for her. Apparently her lunch was taken away from her because school officials claimed it was not healthy enough to eat based off of the USDA guidelines.
The young child brought a home-packed lunch to school containing a turkey sandwich, banana, potato chips, and an apple juice. A lunch inspector told the child she wasn’t allowed to eat it and provided her with a USDA-approved lunch. The approved lunches meet the USDA guidelines that require one serving of meat, one serving of grains, and two servings of fruit or vegetables. The uneaten lunch was returned home with the child. Inside, the girl’s mother found a note explaining that the lunch didn’t meet guidelines and a bill for $1.25, the cost of the school lunch.
The child’s mother took action. She anonymously wrote her local paper and called a state representative. The North Carolina rep contacted the school regarding the issue and the school issued an apology. The child’s lunch was deemed acceptable after a second review.
The USDA announced new guidelines for school lunches on January 13, 2011. These are the first changes to the guidelines in over 15 years and have been made in part to help stop the rapidly increasing rates of childhood obesity.
“The more we can reinforce the right set of choices and encourage the right set of choices, the greater the chances are that we will get a handle on obesity,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told Good Morning America. “This doesn’t mean that we are going to eliminate treats, not at all. But it is a circumstance, situation where treats have a special meaning, a special occasion, a special circumstance that we celebrate with a treat.”
The new guidelines set the first ever maximum cap on consumable calories in addition to the minimum already allowed. They set high standards: reduce saturated fat, sugar and sodium, increase whole grains and serve both fruits and vegetables daily. Children consume up to half of their calories at school, and these guidelines help to make sure that they are meeting their dietary needs.