There are quite a few tweets and twitters about Michelle Obama and her food choices in the news. Images of gelatinous, non-descript earth colored school lunches are popping up with the hashtag “Thanks Michelle Obama” as if to scold the first lady into shame over the school lunch reform program. Is there shame in the school lunch reform program? Or are there problems in the school lunch reform program?
Obesity is skyrocketing world-wide. There’s no escaping it-except through good nutrition, proper portion sizes and exercise. The McKinesy Global Institute released a report, “How the world could better fight obesity” giving us the chilling facts; at least 30% of the world’s population is obese and this includes children. And according to the report if we keep putting weight on and refuse to take care of our bodies it’s most likely the world’s obesity rate will increase to 50% of the population. That’s correct; half of the entire world will be over-weight. And while you might think “not me, not my family” the truth is because most of the third world population is struggling with famine and war it’s the first world that should be most concerned. Like the good old USA. Deaths from obesity related disease are very likely with these statistics; cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver failure, atherosclerosis and more.
So should we be thanking Michelle Obama for changing school lunches? These changes are the first the United States has seen in 15 years. The changes come in the nick of time for some children who in the USA are still going hungry while others are over eating the wrong foods. The unbalance has to be leveled for the sake of growing children and their health. In a nut shell the USDA has agreed to make available at school more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk products along with reducing the amount of sodium, saturated fats and trans fats served. More whole grains and vegetables and less fatty, salty foods served to our children- that seems like a step in the right direction, past the Reagan administration who allowed ketchup ( made with high fructose corn syrup) to be considered a vegetable.
The real problem is with “change” itself; it’s painful, unfamiliar, confusing and makes people feel uncomfortable. Ask anyone who’s gone through major life changes; new jobs, new houses, new babies, new healthy life style choices, new exercise commitments-change is HARD! But change is possible. Dedicating yourself to exercise and fitness won’t show results if you quit after 2 weeks. Changing your eating habits doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and commitment.
Changing an entire school system and the food they serve, the acceptance of the new foods from parents and children and trouble-shooting the potential pitfalls is going to hit some rough spots. For example how does a system keep the healthy, perishable foods as fresh as possible without wasting money? Are rural schools going to have a harder time complying with the new regulations, especially during the winter when fresh food is harder to get? These and more are questions we and the USDA are going to continue to face. But quitting now or blaming Michelle Obama isn’t going to “change” anything.
There are thanks due to Michelle Obama; for beginning the changes known as the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act which are so desperately needed for the children in the USA. These changes aren’t going to be easy; they’re going to take time and effort and there’s going to be a few set-backs. But they can be accomplished as long as we’re all committed to keeping our kids healthy, for life.