Tuesday, September 25, 2012

House Republicans - "American Kids Don't Eat Enough"!?


For some this might seem right out of the bizarro files. America's in the midst of rapidly rising rates of childhood and adolescent obesity and the House Republicans have introduced a bill to repeal the maximal school lunch calorie limits put in place by the new USDA guidelines.

Amazingly the bill has been named the, "No Hungry Kids Act" (I swear I thought the article I was reading was an Onion piece when I first saw it).

So just how badly kids would starve if the limits were left in place depends on their age.

If they're in kindergarten through fifth grade they'd be stuck with a paltry 650 calories a meal; sixth through eighth grade - 700 calories; and ninth grade and up 800 calories.

The horror!

But wait, 650 calories is more calories than I have for lunch.

So what do you think is driving the Republicans' desire to feed American kindergarteners larger lunches than mine?

My money'd be on Big Agriculture and Big Food lobby dollars.

How about yours?

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20 comments:

  1. The Republicans should be more concerned with the composition of those calories than the amount of calories. But I guess that's obvious. Sigh. I imagine there are many thousands of kids (and adults) who get lots of calories but are actually undernourished because the calories are empty.

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  2. The sponsors of the bill are from Kansas and Iowa. Big Ag states indeed.

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  3. It's a two-sided problem that Reps seem to be trying to put a band-aid on (on the one hand) and slap Michelle Obama at the same time (with the other hand, frankly).

    What they're doing, in my estimation, is calculatedly manipulating a problem as real and as significant as the rise in obesity rates among children and adolescents. The other problem is the matter of food insecurity happening all over the country -- and fixing that problem is not a matter of quantity (calories, in this case), but quality.

    The face of the "Republican Problem", in my opinion, showed itself in Rick Santorum, who made the idiotic comment about (paraphrasing) *How can there possibly be food insecurity with all those obese people?* ...which so beyond misses the point that it would be laughable if he weren't so ignorantly serious. The Republicans are missing the point (again)...but my feeling, based on everything else they've done over the past decade+, is that they are fully aware of what they're doing. They know it's wrong, and they're doing it anyway.

    In this circumstance, they're doing it because the *positive* efforts toward working against childhood obesity wasn't their idea...and the idea was attached to the name Obama.

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  4. The only logical reason I can think of for this is to save schools from having to calculate the number of calories in meals. If they're cooking homemade food, it's harder to estimate its energy content, and encouraging cooking from scratch in school lunchrooms would be a good thing. Don't know whether or not that's an issue, though.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous8:58 am

      When a school sets a menu, they also have to define the recipes, cooking times and portion sizes. Otherwise, they cannot order ingredients and be sure that everyone is fed. And thus it is entirely trivial to calculate the number of calories per serving for each child.

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  5. I think the issue is that people worry that the school lunch might be the only meal some kids are getting, and why limit those calories. The issue in my opinion, pointed out by another commentator, is that a 650 calorie meal would be enough food for anyone if it was simply the right kind of food, which the schools here just seem incapable of putting together. I live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country and our school district is one of the best, and I still won't let them feed my kids. They spend the bulk of the allotted calories on white flour products and low quality meat (sloppy joes, baked chicken chunks) and the fruits and vegetables are not palatable (raw broccoli, mushy apples) and the kids don't eat it. So, what you end up with is a possibly hungry child getting a small sandwich and not much else to eat that day.

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  6. This came across today:
    "Too Fat to Fight" http://cdn.missionreadiness.org/MR_Too_Fat_to_Fight-1.pdf

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  7. Anonymous9:08 am

    650 calories is already a huge lunch. Three such meals a day is enough to sustain the weight of a normal sized adult. How can it not create obesity in children? And to even reach that number, one shudders at the quality of food that must be served. For example, a Big Mac contains 590 calories -- http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/foods-from-mcdonalds/6220/2 and it would appear that Republicans feel that this is simply not enough food for the average child in the middle of the school day. One wonders at the concentration levels of kids who might now eat *two* Big Mac like sandwiches and drink a sugar sweetened beverage. How well will they perform as the nod all afternoon? It's all just ludicrous pandering to corporatist interests. Shareholders in big food should be proud.

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  8. Is it seriously not occurring to anyone that there really are hungry kids who need that school lunch and that meal might be their only complete meal that day? Because really..... I hate republicans as much as the next loyal democrat, and I'm sure their motivations are not all generosity towards hungry kids, but in case anyone hasn't noticed, times have been kind of hard lately in some communities and there really are kids who need that school lunch and need it to not be limited quite so much in calories.

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  9. Anonymous9:14 am

    Having upper calorie limits is reasonable, it can help prevent a menu of high calorie choices loaded with cheese or deep fried. High calorie choices aren't necessarily large in size.

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  10. The perceived need for caloric restriction is based on the assumption that fat calories, in general, are to blame for the obesity epidemic. In truth, it's the omega-6 fat calories that need to be restricted. Our modernized food supply is heavily laced with omega-6s and among other deleterious effects, they derange the appetite. http://sciencenordic.com/vegetable-oils-promote-obesity

    In contrast, saturated fats are helpful for weight control because they satisfy the appetite. http://rdfeinman.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/saturated-fat-on-your-plate-or-in-your-blood/

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    1. Anonymous8:11 pm

      In truth, if you actually read the articles on this blog, Dr. Freedhoff does a very good job of highlighting the fact that a problem like obesity isn't explained by a single factor, Gary Taubes be damned.

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    2. The sad part of this whole discussion is that restricting calories for obese children has always been discouraged by nutrition professionals. It's the nature and quality of food that counts. It's utterly absurd for the gov't to be telling schools they have to restrict saturated fat, since sat. fat is not a health menace. The current restrictions will not solve the obesity problem and will leave the kids hungry and headed for the nearest junk food as soon as they leave school! Check here for other reasons these restrictions are so foolish. Dr. Janey Thornton's USDA blog: http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/08/27/usda-has-made-major-improvements-to-school-meals-got-a-question-askusda/#comment-1819356

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  11. I have to agree with Marianne, comment above, that there are really hungry kids that need free lunches and need all those calories.

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  12. Bill H3:32 pm

    This is student lead. Many are active in sports and other activities.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IB7NDUSBOo&feature=channel&list=UL

    http://www.kake.com/home/headlines/St-Mark-Students-Protest-New-Federal-Lunch-Guidelines-169542726.html#.UFElwYHQ5to.facebook

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/09/24/169497/school-lunch-calorie-limits-leave.html


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  13. Tom Naughton has an intelligent discussion of school lunches going on at http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2012/09/25/more-school-lunch-protests/ -- anybody interested in the issue should check it out.

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  14. You know, considering the fact the poor, food insecure Americans are the ones who are most likely to be heavy, the clip art graphic you're using above is really inappropriate.

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    1. Honestly Dee, I can't fathom the glasses you use when reading my posts. The graphic above represents American law makers feasting off of lobbyist dollars.

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    2. No kidding. However, the choice of that particular metaphor doesn't seem random to me. I must just be paranoid, though.

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    3. Anonymous7:55 am

      The trench coat + hat makes the guy look like Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist. It still makes sense for the point Dr. Freedhoff is making, because the money the lobbyists get is basically from government (funneled through companies).

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