Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GOP makes tomato paste a vegetable, keeps junk foods in schools

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is trying to make school lunches more nutritious and less fattening. Among other things the USDA has proposed.

  • Limiting starchy vegetables, including corn and peas, to two servings a week.
  • Cutting down on offerings of French fries, which some schools serve daily.
  • Not allowing schools to count tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable, as it does now. 
  • Requiring that federally subsidized lunches must have a certain number of vegetables to be served.
  • Imposing long-term sodium reduction requirements.
  • Requiring schools to use more whole grains in the meals they serve.
The USDA proposals are based upon recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.   They are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to fight childhood obesity and reduce future health care costs.

Some facts about childhood obesity: 

Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion.  Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years. At present, approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are considered obese.  Read more: http://www.stop-childhood-obesity.com/childhood-obesity-statistics.html

Republicans oppose USDA rules

Republicans oppose these USDA rules.  They say they want to "prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and to provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals."  In reality, Republicans are committed to insuring that pizza, hot dogs, hamburger, fries, lots of salt, lots of starchy vegetables like corn and peas, and colas rich in sugar continue to be available to kids in order to please major contributors like members of the American frozen food industry that make a lot of money selling junk food to schools.

It looks like Republicans have succeeded since the final version of a spending bill with released late Monday with wide Republican and limited Democratic support would block the USDA standards.  The American Frozen Food Institute is overjoyed.  Nutritionists are applauded.  American parents should be outraged.

Please write your Congressman and Senator.  Tell them to support the USDA effort to fight childhood obesity.  Do it for America's kids.

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