Healthier School Meals on the Menu
Article date: January 26, 2012
By Stacy Simon
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has updated its nutrition guidelines for school lunches and breakfasts. The changes are designed to make the food served in schools healthier, and ultimately to improve the health of school-age children.
The 32-million children who eat in school cafeterias every day should start seeing the changes in the 2012-1013 school year. Among the changes:
• Calorie limits for all meals
• More fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains to replace refined grains
• Only fat-free or 1% milk to be served
• Stricter limits for saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
For example, a typical lunch under the old guidelines consisted of cheese pizza, canned pineapple, tater tots with ketchup, and 1% chocolate milk. Under the new guidelines, it’s whole wheat cheese pizza, baked sweet potato fries, raw grape tomatoes with low-fat ranch dip, applesauce, and 1% milk.
John Seffrin, PhD, CEO of the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), said, “Evidence shows that approximately one-third of all cancer deaths are attributable to poor diet, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity. Unfortunately, obesity among school-age children and adolescents has tripled over the past three decades. Because overweight and obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, efforts to establish healthy body weight patterns must begin at a young age. To reverse these statistics, it is vitally important that these new nutritional standards become part of a comprehensive nationwide strategy focused on ensuring the health of today’s children.”
For even more control over the food your kids eat, consider packing lunches for them to take to school. American Cancer Society Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, has ideas and tips on how to make healthy home-made lunches kids will actually eat.
The American Cancer Society recommends that children and adults eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, get to a healthy weight and keep it for life, and be physically active. Adults who drink alcohol should limit how much they drink. Read our complete guidelines on nutrition and physical activity to learn how to help lower your cancer risk.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
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