Today we’re going to talk about how the Fat Panic has lead to a school telling parents that they are not allowed to send their kids to school with lunches, but must pay for the school lunches – one of which is pictures in the photo – and doesn’t it just look tasty and nutritious.
Before I get started, if you’ll allow me some quick shameless self-promotion. I’ll be in NYC in May and the fabulous Golda Poretsky and I will be putting on a “Dancing with Body Positivity” workshop. Click here for details (and to see the amazing flyer that Golda made!
Onto today’s blog:
Readers Karen and Lauren sent me an article about what passes for helping children be healthy these days:
In this article a public school in Chicago has banned students from bringing their own lunches, except in cases where a student has a medical excuse. Although this has been in place for 6 years, it is getting coverage now because of the whole won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children ob*sity epi-panic that is being led by our First Lady. The school Principal said “Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school…It’s about the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke.”
The excellent quality of food, huh? This time last year Chicago students got National press for PROTESTING the quality of the lunches. According to the school they’ve got more vegetables and less junk now, and they only offer reduced fat and fat free mayo and salad dressings. We just talked about this, I highly doubt that foods predominantly composed of chemicals are more healthy than foods that have fat in them The students say that the food tastes bad and parents say that means that more food goes in the trash and their kids go hungry.
Take another look at those enchiladas. Yikes.
This doesn’t really add up to me, I wonder if there could be another reason the school wants to do this? Hmmm…Each school lunch is $2.25 for those who don’t qualify for school lunch. That’s about $400 per student per year in revenue. It’s a k-8 school so each student is worth $3,600 over the duration of their stay to the schools food supplier. I wonder if they were involved in getting this implemented? In cases where students are on free or reduced lunch, the school is paid money by the Federal Government. I wonder how much that revenue factored into this situation? I know that I could pack a good lunch for less than $2.25 and if parents are having to pay extra for school lunch that’s less budget they have for foods at home.
There is something else that I think bears looking into and that is the way that childhood ob*sity is measured. It’s our old friend BMI. As flawed as it is for adults, it is even worse for children. You know how some children will gain a lot of weight and then have a big growth spurt? I wonder what happens to those kids when parents and schools restrict calories and force movement in an attempt to make them lose that weight? BMI certainly can’t tell us how tall a kid is going to get. Plus the growth charts used are from the 1950s and included white children almost exclusively – we are telling kids that their weight should be judged based on white kids in the 50’s.
The original article calls this “Nutritional tough love”, and part of an effort to “Combat the country’s childhood ob*sity epidemic”. First of all, it’s not an epidemic. Second, since when do we want kids in the firing lines of “combat” of any kind? Why can’t we manage to be for healthy kids without being against fat ones (especially when Health at Every Size is an option).
Let’s not forget that according to sources sited on the non-profit National Association of Anorexia and Associated Eating Disorders website:
•47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
If we really stopped to think of the children, I think we would be doing better than this.