A study found that more than one in three middle school students who regularly eat school lunches are obese or overweight.
A study of more than 1,000 sixth graders in several schools in Michigan found that those who ate the school lunch regularly were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought their lunch from home.
The sixth graders filled out questionnaires asking what they ate, how much physical activity they got, and the number of hours they watched TV, played video games and spent on the computer each day.
High Energy, Low Nutrient
“Most school lunches rely heavily on high-energy, low-nutrient-value food, because it’s cheaper,” said Dr. Kim A. Eagle, director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center. In some schools where the study was done, lunch programs offered specials like “Tater Tot Day.”
Kids who ate school lunches:
- Were 38.2 percent more likely to be overweight or obese
- Were 19 percent more likely to have two or more sugary drinks per day
- Were 39.9 percent less likely to eat at least two servings of vegetables per day
- Had overall higher levels of “bad” cholesterol
Help Is On The Way
Under a federal law passed in December, Department of Agriculture guidelines are supposed to limit the number of calories served in school lunches and will require programs to offer a broad variety of fruits and vegetables.