Texas lawmakers are working toward bringing deep-fried foods and sugary drinks back to their schools. The move is meant to eliminate wasteful spending on food that will be thrown out, but it certainly won’t help obesity rates that continue to rise in the state.
The present guidelines that tell Texas' school lunchrooms what they should be serving have done little to curb the obesity rates of the state. Commissioner Sid Miller, of the Texas Department of Agriculture, believes that restoring these unhealthy foods will give choices to school districts that have been unable to cut down on obesity rates over the past 10 years.
“They have resulted in millions of dollars of food not being eaten and thrown away, and I’m here to put an end to that,” said Miller, referring to the healthy eating guidelines.
The initial shift toward serving healthier food began several years ago, when Michelle Obama pushed for children to be put on more nutritious diets. The schools adjusted, but students rejected the change in many states. Kids from Georgia, New Mexico, and Tennessee mourned the loss of their favorite food staples, even though they were very unhealthy.
The American Heart Association isn’t supporting Miller's move, saying it makes little sense and citing surveys that show how most parents support nutrition standards for school meals.
“Commissioner Miller's attempt at addressing childhood obesity is well intentioned, but it fails to align with evidence-based policies that are supported by the AHA and have been a main component in reversing this epidemic such as keeping fried foods and sodas out of reach from our children," they said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 16 percent of Texas high school children were obese as of 2013; that is a 2 percent increase from where it was 10 years ago.
There are many theories on what has prompted this rise in obesity. Differences in opinion between school nutritionists from different parts of the country have played a major factor, but the cultural values attached to food may be something that some students can’t get past. If a food has a certain taste to it and you change one core component, many kids will simply throw it away for tasting different.
So although we may see a rise in the popularity of school lunches, the obesity rate may rise right along with it.