Healthy Food in Schools: USDA Takes up Arms Against Childhood Obesity
The United States is being hit by an epidemic: Childhood Obesity. I know that is not news for most of us. But are we seriously giving it a real good fight that is needed to combat an epidemic? I doubt it.
A few numbers from Center for Disease Control
1. Seventeen percent of children in United States are obese.
2. Obesity increased from 5 to 10.4 percent among 2-5 years old children (pre-school age) between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008.
3. During the same period obesity increased from 6.5 to 19.6 percent among 6-11 years.
4. The rate increased from five to 18.1 percent among adolescents aged 12-19 during the same period.
5. One out of seven pre-school aged children among low income groups are obese.
6. Eighty percent of children who are obese at 10-15 years of age grow up to be obese adults at 25 years of age
7. Seventy percent of obese children (5-17 years old) had at least one cardiovascular disease risk and 39 percent had two or more cardiovascular risk factors. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type II diabetics are some other side effects to name a few.
The news, however, is that the US government has responded for the first time in 15 years to this threat. There is an ardent call from USDA for changing school meals by cutting down on trans fats, salt, and calories and increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables & whole grain products. This process, however, kick started when the Child Nutrition Bill was signed last month. This Bill promises to provide $4.5 billion over ten years in new funding for child nutrition and obesity prevention without increasing the federal deficit. It will actually be in the form of 6 cent per meal increase in the amount the Government already pays for free and low price meals at school.
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According to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, 32 million children participate daily in school meal programs. One third of them are obese or at risk of being obese. If the issue is not addressed immediately, the diseases associated with childhood obesity, like Type II diabetes and high cholesterol could result in more than $334 billion worth of new health care expenses by 2012.