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CDC Report Takes a Closer Look at School Lunches

When the lunch bell rings, students will no longer be greeted by mystery meats and tooth-decaying vending machine meals for school lunches. American schools are improving nutrition, health and physical education polices across the nation, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent School Health Policies and Practices Study.

With easy access to multiple types of foods and beverages at school, it’s important to know that schools are providing healthy alternatives. When taking a closer look at school lunches, the CDC report revealed that schools are serving healthier options to ensure that students are making wiser choices when it comes to their eating habits. According to the report more schools are offering self-serve salad bars, two or more different fruits, 100 percent fruit juices, whole grains and non-fried vegetables.

Significant findings the School Health Policies and Practices reported include:

  • 33.5 percent of schools allow soft drink companies to advertise on campus, decreasing from 46.6 percent in 2006
  • 43.4 percent of school districts prohibit junk food in vending machines, increasing from 29.8 percent in 2006
  • 73.5 percent of schools address nutritional standards for foods sold outside of breakfast or lunch programs, increasing from 55.1 percent in 2006
  • 52.7 percent of schools make school food nutritional information available to parents, increasing from 35.3 percent in 2000

The report notes that “schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behavior patterns.”  We know that the establishment of a long-term healthy lifestyle cannot be obtained overnight, so we must continuously implement healthy habits in our children’s everyday lives.So how do we begin? As schools are making their own efforts, we must do so as well. We all know that most children (and let’s be honest, most adults) would rather chow down a cheeseburger than a fruit salad, but encouraging simple, smart decisions early on can lead to a better quality of life for our kids.

According to the Juice Plus+ Children’s Health Study:

  1. Good nutrition is the foundation of health and inspires other healthy lifestyle choices.
  2. The best time to establish good health and nutritional habits is in childhood.
  3. The key to getting children to adopt good health habits is parental involvement.

Remember, a little sacrifice early on can lead to rewarding results. We have all heard that “it’s never too late to start,” but why not now? Believe me, our children will thank us one day, and that in itself is fulfilling.

How do you incorporate healthier meals into you daily lifestyle? 

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