Controversy ensues over banning of bake sales

In their effort to combat childhood obesity, schools in Massachusetts are banning bake sales. On August 1, anything deemed unhealthy will be banned.

Bakesales may be a great way to raise money, but they encourage unhealthy eating habits and are being banned as part of the fight against childhood obesity. Photo courtesy of ultimateyounow.wordpress.com

The ban targets food sold during the day in the hallways, cafeteria, vending machines, bake sales, holiday parties and other “competitive foods.” State officials, however, are pushing for the ban to include evening, weekend and events held in the community.

Controversy has arisen because of the money that bake sales inherently bring in to sponsor sports events and band trips and the argument that people should have the freedom to choose what they eat. ┬áMore critics argue that the government is not equipped to make such a significant change in a child’s life. But supporters counter that the obesity epidemic has gotten so out of hand that severe measures are necessary.

Listen to Stephanie Armour of the Bloomberg Businessweek talk to David Greene about the issue on NPR.

Schools take stance against childhood obesity

Schools across the nation are taking a stance against childhood obesity thanks to federal grants and Childhood Obesity Prevention Education.

Schools are beginning to revise the lunch menu to incorporate healthier options. Photo courtesy of the Daily Press.

Klein Independent School District in Klein, Texas is implementing new programs at four schools thanks to the federal grants. Each campus was awarded $2,500 to implement obesity prevention programs during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Many people, including Natalia Forside, the district’s school wellness counselor, find that fighting obesity in the school setting is the best place to start.

The programs are family-friendly, and much of the food is home-made and targeted at what kids like to eat.

Even schools unaffiliated with the prevention programs are beginning to revise what they serve for lunch. Additional initiatives such as dancing and running in place┬áto assist in kids’ physical activity are also being implemented throughout the nation’s schools.

Obesity battle must be fought together, study shows

It will take more than just one small change to reduce childhood obesity in America, according to a report from a committee convened by the Institute of Medicine. Multiple strategies and efforts spanning all segments of society need to be made to reduce the obesity epidemic.

Graphic courtesy of the Institute of Medicine.

Schools, the workplace and healthcare providers will all need to be part of the solution, the study showed. Illnesses and costs associated with obesity are on the rise and show no signs of stopping.

Click here to read five goals and recommended strategies concerning the fight against childhood obesity.

Decrease in obesity not seen in less affluent children

Although childhood obesity is showing signs of leveling and in some cases declining, this trend is only occurring in certain subgroups, according to a CNN Health article. Comprehensive national surveys have reported the decline in children ages 2-5, but a specific study of children from low-income families did not find the same declines.

Concern is spreading that young children, especially ones from low-income families, are drinking too much sugary juice. Photo courtesy of Dr. Robyn Silverman.

In the May edition of the journal Pediatrics, a study shows that less affluent children are worse off when it comes to fighting obesity. The study was performed only in Massachusetts, so researchers are hesitant to assume the trend is occurring on a national scale, but previous studies have found the trend to be true in other states as well.

There are several reasons that this trend exists, according to Susan Babey, a senior research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Parents working more than one job have less time to be active and model healthy behavior for their kids, and fast-food meals are easier and cheaper than preparing something fresh and homemade. Many studies have also found that less affluent children drink too much juice.

Answers won’t come from simply telling kids to “eat healthy.” Efforts targeted specifically to children in low-income families need to be made, researchers conclude.

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