Today was the first day of school for kids across the nation.
Naturally, news around school lunches began popping up. One in particular came to my attention.
NYC school lunches fall below minimum calorie requirement.
I don’t think that’s the right question. I think the real question is whether school lunches meet minimum nutrient requirements
(CBS News) NEW YORK – Eating fewer calories can be a good thing and may help prevent obesity, but going below recommended levels can become dangerous. New York City admitted that in their attempt to provide healthier food for school children, they’ve actually cut down too many calories.
City officials said their intention was not to reduce calories, but to provide children with more nutritious choices, the New York Times reported. For example, they swapped out fries with baked potato strips and pork bacon strips for turkey bacon. Non-fat chocolate milk, whole grain pasta and salad bars were added. However, as calories were being shed from each meal, they forgot to look at the overall picture.
Yes, they forgot to look at the over all picture.
The big picture of nutrition has less to do with calories and more to do with the nutrient density of the foods served, whether they are actually nutrient-rich healthy foods or just rich in some nutrients and in reality nutrient poor. Many of these new food choices above are still nutrient poor, such as Turkey bacon, and non-fat chocolate milk and this will have negative consequences for our kids.
Although there is a definite trend toward a more plant-based nutrient-rich way of eating in our schools, what’s missing in our school system is an understanding of how to really optimize a diet for nutrient density, volume and great taste, without addictive substances that will negatively affect the eating health and eating behaviors of our children for decades to come, so that they can eat the right amount of calories.
The issue is not 200 more or less calories; it’s whether or not they are eating nutrient-rich or nutrient-poor foods. If they are predominantly “nutrient rich,” 785 calories for a child may be a a lot of calories!
A few months back, HBO put out a series called, The Weight of the Nation, with a heavy focus on our school children and here’s what they found in Part 3 of the series called Children in Crisis.