Friday, February 12, 2010

The Battle Against Childhood Obesity

Following a brief scan of various online resources this week, I managed to dig up several current articles very relevant to the concept of food culture that we have become more familiar with during the course of this class. Of particular interest was Michelle Obama’s endorsement of the Child Nutrition Act, outlined in a blog entry by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.

This week Michelle Obama announced her intentions to eradicate childhood obesity across the country. Under, the Child Nutrition Act, she hopes to introduce reforms aimed mainly at urban families without access to produce and non-processed foods. By replacing junk foods in school cafeterias with “more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products” the policy seeks to improve aspects of child development that are influenced by diet. The history of the Child Nutrition Act can be traced to the Lyndon B. Johnson administration enabling subsidizing of meals in public schools. With her endorsement of reauthorization of the bill, the first lady just might give children across the country the opportunity to proper nutrition.

While I certainly admire the intentions of anyone with the motivation, much less the means to reform the nutritional system of public schools having suffered through most of k-12 suffering through roofing tar pizza and hockey puck hamburgers, I can’t help but question some of the tactics this reform is proposing. The blog states that “[Obama] has enlisted professional athletes to run sports clinics across the nation and is using her considerable bully pulpit to get food makers and vendors to voluntarily either make their food healthier or at least label it better so people can make informed choices.” Are professional athletes the most qualified individuals to fill this position? I’m sure children enjoy playing structured sports, but I find they are typically more enthusiastic about having fun. Moreover, the effectiveness of Obama’s “bully pulpit” remains to be seen, but will certainly be tested against a floundering economy.

When school districts began implementing measures prohibiting recess for elementary schools, I was wondered how such a policy could possibly be healthy. Even prisoners are allowed yard time. In the age of a video-game and internet media centered culture, by taking away the only times many children have access be it, voluntarily or not to physical activity, school districts are perpetuating a unhealthy behaviors in the elementary school population. Also, somehow I’m not convinced that state run school districts will be too thrilled about federal intervention. Public schools are already underfunded and I believe the corporate revenue many schools derive from endorsing junk-food culture, is just one perceived solutions to the financial conundrum.

Sweet, Lynn , “Michelle Obama's war on obesity” The scoop from Washington. 2/10/10. 2/10/10


  1. Elementary schools in some districts prohibit recess? How is that possible? Why would they do that?

  2. You know who else is starvin, your face.