If we believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity has more than quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Unfortunately, I do believe the CDC. I can see in my school that many children are overweight or even obese. These children wear clothes to hide their rolls of fat. They talk about how fat they feel. Sometimes they ask teachers or other adults for advice as the first unwanted pounds start accumulating around their waists.
Government attempts to change school lunches are likely to be one more well-meaning mistake, however. I diet sometimes. After my recent three-week vacation, I need to diet again. And I know something those fans of the healthy new lunches don’t seem to have put together yet: You make stupid eating choices when you are hungry. Yesterday, I missed lunch because I ended up having an unexpected job interview. When I hit the Golden Corral dinner buffet with my girlfriend — I picked the buffet — I was starved. I guarantee no weight was lost yesterday. The final score was something like My Diet 0, Golden Corral 42.
As noted in a previous post, school lunches where I taught last year frequently had fewer than 300 calories, and that was assuming students ate the whole lunch. Many times, I’m sure the day’s school lunch calories are all consumed during P.E. On soccer days, active students are using more than a lunch worth of calories. These students will feel ravenous when they get home and will fill up on whatever is at hand. At that point, I’d bet the whole school lunch program comes undone. Bags of Takis, Flaming Hot Cheetos, tortilla chips, pizza, cheese quesadillas, leftovers and any snack that feels filling will be part of the afternoon feast.
Eduhonesty: I’d like the government out of the school lunch business, but if we can’t get the government out, we need to pay attention to lunch calories counts. I’m sure the first thing most of my students do when they get home is to start foraging in the cupboards and fridge. Current lunches offered at my school are more likely to cause obesity than to cure it.