Obesity is becoming a national health crisis in our country and children are a growing part of this crisis. An area that has recently gained notice in the fight against obesity in children is the issue of vending machines in schools and their contribution to unhealthy eating habits. Please read the short article in the following link – it presents the point of view of a student in high school.
Answer 2 of the following 3 questions:
a. Do you think schools should continue to offer children of all ages a full range of food choices, including unhealthful junk food. Why or why not?
b. Do you think placing restrictions on certain types of foods would increase children’s healthful eating?
c. How should schools balance short-term financial needs (profits made from vending machines) with the long-term risks of obesity?
I do not think schools should continue to offer children of all ages food choices that are considered unhealthy. Rather, I think that if schools do decide to keep vending machines that they should be providing snacks that taste good but are healthy. This would show children that eating well does not have to be torturous. The argument used by the student in West Babylon about hunger being a main reason schools need vending machines is simply invalid and unreasonable. It is against the law to not offer students lunch in public schools. If a child can afford $1.25 for a candy bar that is nowhere near enough to quench the appetite of a child who has not eaten all day and that has no nutritional value whatsoever, why can they not afford $1.25 for a “well-balanced” (according to the Board of Education) lunch meal? Also, you can receive reduced fare for lunch but not for snacks out of a vending machine so if money is an issue for you then eating the school lunch makes much more sense. If schools are going to keep vending machines in their facilities, they should put only healthy food items and they can leave it to the child to decide if they want to spend their money on a small healthy snack or a properly portioned meal.
I do not think that placing restrictions on certain types of foods would increase children’s healthful eating because it could cause them to crave those unhealthy foods more when outside of school and possibly refrain them from eating altogether while at school. Researchers say that “keeping palatable food in sight, but off limits, is the most problematic” so another one of the West Babylon student’s points is invalid. She claims that offering unhealthy foods in vending machines “give students the right to make the decision to eat healthy or unhealthy things” however actual research has proven this to have a negative effect. Offering those sweets only tempts the children more. One study that was performed to observe the effects of restricting what a child can consume showed “seven year old girls ate a standard lunch followed by free access to snack food afterward. The girls who were restricted at home not only ate more of the snack foods, they had negative feelings about their eating.” This demonstrates the negative effects that restricting a child’s diet can have on them outside of school.