Are Your Children Unintentionally Overeating?
Much controversy has arisen in New York concerning children who may be taking in excess calories by eating breakfast twice, once at home and then again when they arrive at school. Eyebrows were raised after a study examined the results of New York City health department’s recent attempt to ensure children from low income families receive proper nutrition by providing free breakfast at select schools.
Unfortunately, the Breakfast in the Classroom program might just be contributing to more childhood obesity—which isn’t helpful for the future considering more than 20 million children under the age of five are already overweight.
Critics continue to battle the program in New York City claiming it’s more important children from low income families are fed regardless if other children are consuming two meals for breakfast instead of one.
The Breakfast in the Classroom program echoes a national debate over the nutritional content of free or reduced-price school meals. This debate leaves New York City’s policy makers in a sticky situation while trying to weigh the pros and cons of tackling children’s hunger while combatting a national epidemic of childhood obesity.
Nearly 40 percent of New York’s elementary and middle-school students are considered overweight or obese. Policymakers are trying to find the appropriate solutions so they can succeed in both issues without disadvantaging each other.
New York currently offers breakfast at all school cafeterias, but children generally have to show up early before school starts to eat. Some children are embarrassed to come forward for the free meal so by serving meals in classrooms, educators believe there is less stigma and more children will accept it. But is it worth possibly aiding the childhood obesity epidemic?
Issues like this are delicate, especially when it comes to the future health of America’s children—but as parents, it’s important to talk to children about these issues. Talk with your kids about their school’s cafeteria programs to find out if they’re serving your children free breakfast. If they are, you can discuss making healthy choices to help them not overeat. If they are eating breakfast or lunch at school instead of home, make sure they’re being served healthy alternatives to the typical-fast foods most schools provide. Saying no to bad food is hard to do for adults, let alone children, but it is important to always make healthy choices and set the right examples for our children.