Time to Eat School Lunch
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Although there are some inherited and hormonal reasons of childhood obesity, most of the time it’s caused by kids over eating and not exercising enough. In addition to consuming nutrient rich food and exercising regularly, nutritionists have said that it is important for children to have an adequate amount of time to eat their meals. This is because it takes individuals, to only begin feeling full, about twenty minutes after they begin eating. Thus with a diminutive period of time to eat, it is likely that people will over eat because their bodies don’t recognize they are finish eating within the eating period. Other causes for childhood obesity could be the food they eat when they are in school. In contrast to all of that, majority of what children eat is consumed at other places, not just at school. School meals cannot be to blame for the rapid growth of the students who consume the food.
The lack of exercise is also a contributing factor to the weight gain of the children. Some daily excuses that are given are; that children find exercise to be “work” and “too tiring”, it’s not enforced, and they don’t have time to eat healthy or exercise and the oldest excuse in the book: their just too lazy. Moreover childhood obesity as many causes and the likelihood of these causes to be one thing is dubious. With all of the unhealthy aspects of the school lunches served every day to the future generation of this country, it is said that many of the overweight children will not only be overweight but will also have health problems as adults.
How exactly does the time given to eat correlate with children’s weight? It has been scientifically proven that it takes about twenty minutes for the brain to realize that an individual is getting full once he/ she starts eating. It is shown that people, who are given fifteen to twenty minutes to eat, tend to overeat because they don’t feel that they are full. With that being said, most of the children buy extra food and with the short period of time to eat they eat much faster. This implies that a student with more time to eat is less likely to overeat. Also with children, they tend to eat what tastes good, regardless if they are hungry or not. So on top of overeating, children follow what the “trending” food is for that week. So if one friend has French fries than they all must have French fries.
At lunch time there are these long lines that go on for miles and friends who talk for days. So there is limited time on eating because of socializing and the ridiculous lines that the children must wait in to get the food. Upon getting the food, they lay their eyes on what is before them and there are about three different green- looking substances and some “mystery” meat from yesterday. Now this food is probably healthy, it more than likely has all of the nutrients that it’s required to have. Children would more than likely eat healthy food that looks appetizing than food that looks like what dogs would eat. Many children ask for food that taste good as well as food that looks good. Eating healthy shouldn’t be a punishment, it should be made easy.
To fully recognize why a short length lunch time could lead to overconsumption, it is important to understand the mechanisms behind eating. When a person eats, nerves in the stomach send a signal to a portion in the brain that controls appetite. That part of the brain, the hypothalamus, relies on the rest of the brain to tell the body to stop eating. The hypothalamus is a small structure that plays a big role in handling information from your autonomic nervous system. The hypothalamus controls eating, hunger, digestion, pituitary gland and hormone release. It takes about twenty minutes for the brain to know that it is feeling full. When there is a short period of time, the body begins to eat quickly, relative to when there is a longer period of time to eat, you pace yourself. As a consequence when given a short period of time to eat, you don‘t feel full in the twenty minutes that is given to eat.
In addition to overeating, short lunch periods could encourage students to skip out on lunch. Students are realizing that since there is about ten minutes after they socialize and stand in the lines, they don’t have enough time to eat. The length of time for lunch is too short for students to talk and wait in lines and eat, all in the same lunch period. Skipping meals can be very dangerous because you may skip lunch but when it’s time to eat again you may overeat then. Or the students will eat fast food, such as vending machine food or packaged food. It is known that fast food and packaged food is not healthy. Skipping meals will not help reduce childhood obesity and certainly will not help with the overall health of the children.
It is found that more than seventy percent of school served meals that meet the standards for critical nutrients such as protein, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. But a mere six to seven of subsidized meals meet all nutritional standards. Most lunch programs have too much saturated fat or overall fat, and not enough calories. Fat from the school lunches come from salad dressings, condiments and spreads, pizza products, peanut butter sandwiches and French fries. Saturated fat tends to come from pizza products, condiments and spreads, 2- percent milk, salad plates or salad bars and hamburgers or cheeseburgers. Foods in vending machines, la carte, and food in the snack bars are most often high in calories and low in nutrients. Studies have shown that students that come from a low income family tend to suffer worse, nutritionally, than those who come from a higher income home. This is said because the students that came from low income might actually eat the school lunches and children from higher eat more of the la carte meals. In the same respect children that use the school-lunch-program generally get more nutrients than children responsible for their own lunch.
With school having the most impact on students life, why do children find it hard to lose weight or hard to keep weight off? Many children consider playing a sport, time consuming. They have to commit to something and they will be obligated to respect the sports rules. Well there is the problem, beyond eating healthy students will find every reason not to join a sport or club. Therefore physical activity is not enforced, and many of the students prefer it that way. But with the upcoming generation of overweight and obese children, being lazy is out of the question. School lunches are a contributing factor to the overall weight gain of children and adolescence but it certainly isn’t the only reason. Exercising is important, and ten minutes a day wouldn’t hurt.
In contrast the time given to walk to and from lunch is also put into the time given to actually eat. If the students are hungry, it has been said that they shouldn’t be socializing and they should also briskly walk to the lines that are so long. The food that is served shouldn’t be to blame because most of the food consumed by children is consumed elsewhere and not consumed at school. So, the school serves healthy foods, the students just don’t buy it. Maybe it’s the choice of the students to be fat and to continue to gain weight. Maybe it’s the parents are not helping their children. It’s not against any rules to pack a lunch for school. Therefore students can control whether they gain weight. Right?
Some children have the genetics to gain weight quickly or retain weight or inability to lose weight. In any case children shouldn’t have to worry about their weight. If children were feed healthy foods from pre-school maybe they would not be used to the unhealthy food they are served on a daily basis. Society could be partly to blame just as much as school lunches. This is because the media makes “junk food” seem like good food and normally doesn’t show any consequences. Of course there is nothing wrong with the occasional cookie at lunch, but it shouldn’t be the only thing children are eating when they come to school.
The students have realized the food served at their school isn’t the healthiest. And some people bring their own lunch for that very reason. Some students have said that when they go out to eat they don’t have to pack a lunch, so why should they have to for school. Another student has said “that the portion size for a growing high school student shouldn’t be the same as for an elementary student.” Although some of the students are okay with the food selection, majority of the high school students tend to think otherwise. The assistant principal has cleared up a clouded thought recently; “why do we (the students of White Oak High School) get only twenty- two minutes to complete lunch?” , “ If lunches were any longer we would be school longer. I have watched students and for the entire lunch period they will socialize and the two minutes until the bell and they would run into the line. Once into class they complain that they didn’t have time to eat.”. “Is it true that some of the five minutes to get to and from class is included in the time given to eat?”. “I don’t know for sure.”
After that question I stopped, and thought about the school system as a whole. And I quickly realized that although it may seem like the principal and assistant principals have power over what we do and how we do it, but they don’t, they just enforce what the people above them say. School lunches are the way they are is because of the lack of funding. We, as students, shouldn’t expect a five star meal at a school that has textbooks from 2004. Not to speak poorly upon the school but that doesn’t make sense. In the same respect, we have flat screen televisions in the hallway and in the lunch room. What excuse do we have for that? Maybe it’s time we get our priorities straight.
* Gardner, Amanda. 4 Mar. 2012. Web : http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/childrens-health/articles/2009/03/04/school-lunches-too-fatty-and-sugary-critics-say_print.htm * Morran, Chris. “Study: Don’t Blame School Lunches For Childhood Obesity – The Consumerist.” The Consumerist. The Consumerist, 19 Jan. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://consumerist.com/2012/01/study-dont-blame-school-lunches-for-childhood-obesity.html>. * WHO. World Health Organization, 2012. Web. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/ * Smith, Megan. “School Lunches and Childhood Obesity.” LIVESTRONG.COM. 10 Oct. 2010. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/275548-school-lunches-and-childhood-obesity/>. * Interview with Mr. Clark assistant principle of White oak high School * Questioned many of the people who sit at my lunch table. (Moriah Y. 10th, Megan B 10th, Arielle E 11th, etc.