Cleaning our Cafeterias

Good physical and mental health maintenance, the most important aspect of life, is neglected on a regular basis in our country. The United States is a facade for good health as it is ranks fifth in the world in standard of living. In reality, health is quantitatively measured by life expectancy, where the U.S. ranks 25th. Among many causes death, obesity continues to be rampant among our unhealthy population, especially targeting children. It is so much a problem that the first lady Michelle Obama made battling child obesity as her top priority through the “Let’s Move!” campaign.

The root of childhood obesity is junk food, which has been readily available to students in school cafeterias for decades. Through a community effort to build a healthy population, junk food in schools throughout America is being replaced with more nutritional options. Cleaning our cafeterias is absolutely critical in combating the obesity epidemic and more importantly ensuring future generations have a chance to live a healthy lifestyle.

Junk food high in fats and sodium combined with little physical activity is Death’s perfect dream. Unfortunately this kind of lifestyle has been cultivated in the United States for decades. We now face the consequences of our actions as a nation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has alarmingly doubled and adolescence obesity has quadrupled in the past 30 years. This sharp increase in the obesity among the younger population can be directly traced to improper nutrition. The emergence of junk food has correlated to an earlier onset of cardiovascular diseases along with obesity. Young adults are being diagnosed with high cholesterol levels and blood pressure spikes.

Consumption of junk food plays a big role in a child’s physical and mental development. Drinks with high sugar content can make students become hyperactive and inattentive. This cumulates to poor academic performance in the long run. Weight gain associated with the consumption of junk food places excess pressure on the bones. This leads to weak and underdeveloped bones. Further down the road this can lead to osteoporosis and other defects of the bones. Weight gain can also lead to various types of cancers including breast cancer, kidney, colon etc. All these dangerous consequences can be avoided by banning junk food in school cafeterias.

Encouraging children to follow healthy eating habits should not be restricted only to home, but must also be enforced in schools. Providing children with nutritional and healthy food is definitely the schools’ responsibility. Schools are for creating better, smarter and healthier future for our society. School lunches should include more high protein diet as it is vital for growth. Banning soda on campus is another important step. Soda contains high amount of sugar and is one of the leading causes of diabetes. A healthy alternative to soda is milk, which is rich in calcium and helps children gain bone strength and energy. More of an emphasis should be placed on the importance of drinking water and staying hydrated. This is especially important for student athletes who often have practices after school in the hot summer weather.

Schools must also look into having specialized calorie controlled meal plans for obese and overweight children. Counselors should work with to such students and encourage them to eat healthy and do regular exercise. Schools can also hire nutrition specialist to assist students who are battling obesity and other nutrition related issues. Every individual has different nutritional needs. A nutritionist can make sure that all these needs are met. Schools banning junk food will significantly reduce childhood obesity all over the nation. It is going to help build a sound and healthier tomorrow. Coupled with continued health and physical education, we will continue to work our way up the life expectancy ladder.