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School Vending Machines: Why Your Kid Is Fat
School vending machines make students fat
Let’s face it, kids in America are fat. In fact, almost 30% of them are obese! What is causing this obesity epidemic? Where does the blame lie? It is hardly fair to blame the children themselves; they are too young to make smart food choices when their parents are not around. And what if their parents are around? What do you teach your children about healthy eating habits? You may do your best at home and serve a well-rounded, well-balanced meal at dinnertime, but children spend most of their days at school where you have no control over what they eat and how much they eat. We all know that school lunches are not the healthiest meals in the world. Processed meals that contain frozen meats and starches lack the essential fruits, vegetables and whole grains that children need to maintain an appropriate body weight. Where else can children get food at school? Scary school vending machines are taking your kids’ money and making them fat.
Effects of eating junk food at school
There are many reasons why children should not eat fast food at school. Not only does it affect their physical health, but it also affects their mental health. Eating loads of empty calories and processed junk doesn’t fill you up and drains your energy. Children get no “value” from this type of food. It doesn’t fuel their bodies or give them energy to work through the day. They will experience a sugar rush quickly followed by a sugar crash which will cause them to crave another sugar “high” and the vicious cycle continues. The same goes for salty snacks full of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are simply converted into sugar and have the same effect on the child’s metabolism. A diet of junk food will also cause children to lose focus, feel sluggish and perform poorly in class and on tests. Blood circulation can even slow down if you eat too much junk food and fat gets in the way of blood flow. Brain capacity can also be compromised as a constant diet of junk food will cause your brain to lack oxygen, nutrients and protein. Further effects include heart disease and high cholesterol. As you can imagine, these health problems as a young child can have a long-term impact on a child’s life. It is much more difficult to correct these health problems than to simply avoid them. Fat kids turn into fat adults, which is why more than 25% of Americans are obese. Learning proper eating habits in childhood will help these children maintain a healthy weight and body fat percentage as they grow older. School vending machines do NOT help children make healthy food choices.
Why do schools have vending machines?
It seems so obvious that kids will eat better if you remove vending machines from schools. It’s not that simple, unfortunately. Our schools are woefully underfunded and vending machines offer them the profit stream they need for their operating budgets. Schools do receive money from the government under the National School Meals Program which feeds more than 30 million children every day in more than 101,000 schools. But that’s just not enough. One dollar per student is not enough to provide them with a healthy meal. Therefore, schools are supplementing cafeteria offerings by adding vending machines as another food option for students. Slot machine profit margins are huge because the margins are so high. And students will visit vending machines again and again because of the addiction that sugar and carbohydrates have on the body.
Changes to the store for school sales
There is light at the end of the junk food tunnel. A law is up for a vote that could mark the end of the era of school vending machines. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will give more money to schools and allow the Secretary of Agriculture to establish nutrition standards for schools. Parents and school can also play a big role in our children’s eating habits. Schools can voluntarily remove junk food vending machines and/or replace them with healthy food vending machines that offer children a choice of food items that will fill them up and help them focus throughout the day. Parents, real change must come from you. Start with the way you eat. Children see what you eat and are more likely to follow your dietary advice if you eat healthy foods yourself. You can’t eat pizza and expect your kids to eat salad. Involve your children in cooking healthy meals. The more invested they are in the process, the more likely they are to eat something they don’t normally like. Perhaps most importantly, parents must put pressure on their children’s schools to make the necessary changes. Most school administrators will just let the vending machines remain in place unless prompted to remove them. If you stand up for your children’s health, schools will be forced to make a change.
We all know that change has to happen to get our kids back on track. They are simply too fat, and the schools and parents are to blame. However, vending machines are the main culprits as they continue to supply our children with unhealthy food that endangers their health and ability to learn. Change must come from both parents and schools to remove these machines and improve our children’s chances in life. Their success in school, college, professional life and health depends on it.
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