The United States Department of Agriculture recently passed a mandate under pressure from food industry lobbyists that qualified pizza as a vegetable.
Child obesity rates across the country are skyrocketing. Where does the responsibility lie to make kids healthier?
Pizza Is A Vegetable; Didn't You Hear?
In November of 2011, Congress blocked a proposal to improve school lunch nutrition standards nationwide and in doing so, qualified pizza as a vegetable. Apparently the 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce on a slice of pizza were enough for Congress to view pizza as a satisfactory source of nutrition and a suitable alternative to vegetables.
The move caused a media uproar, as the decision seemed to fly directly in the face of common sense. Under pressure from food industry lobbyists and facing the fact that many school districts wouldn't be able to afford maintaining newly imposed federal guidelines, Congress opted against the plan to make lunches healthier for students nationwide.
What's been the fallout? Nothing, really. Kids are plump and fed, school lunches remain affordable, and our problem with adolescent and childhood obesity continues to grow (literally and figuratively).
Who Is Responsible For Kids?
The congressional mandate did more than qualify pizza as a vegetable; it blocked an initiative to incorporate more whole grains in school lunches and it kept french fries and other potato-based staples on the menu. Looking at a menu filled with french fries, burger, pizza and simple carbohydrates, what would you have for lunch every day?
The move made it clear that the government isn't on a timetable to mandate what kids eat, despite the recent and high-profile campaign by Michelle Obama to promote physical activity and healthy eating at schools. Congress is under enormous pressure from food industry lobbyists to maintain the status quo in schools, and schools themselves are under enormous financial stress around the country. As a result of these two factors, federal regulation of nutrition in schools is going a long way off.
It's up to the parents to do something about it.
Time and Money
Lobbying Congress costs a lot of money, so it's not surprising that the junk food companies that lobby Congress are also the ones running TV ads for their products. They have the capital to sustain high-profile political and advertising practices, while small farms and food companies that produce healthy and nutritious snacks for kids don't have that kind of pulling power.
Since when did healthy become the feeble minority? How has this come about?
Regardless of how it happened, it simply takes more time, work and money to be healthy. Fast food and snack companies have the capital to buy advertisements and airtime. Processed grains and sugary snacks are significantly cheaper than their healthier counterparts. It takes time and dedication to truly understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy. Unfortunately, many people can't spare the time and money it takes to be healthy these days.
Where Do You Stand?
We'd love to hear your thoughts! Tweet at us with your responses or comment in the comment section just below this entry. Let's get kids healthier! Share with us how you're doing your part.
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