Are Schools to Blame for Making Kids Fat?


These days, it seems that everyone has an answer as to why childhood obesity is running rampant in our country. One member of the New York City Department of Health has her own idea. She is claiming that the school’s free breakfast program is to blame.

The Program

If you’re not familiar, the free breakfast and lunch program is offered to low income families around the country. The program is meant to ensure that children aren’t going hungry. But, as we can see, most children are definitely not going hungry. Her suspicion is that many kids are eating not one, but two breakfasts (one at home and one at school). So, her idea is that kids are taking in more calories than they’re burning off. I think the last statement is quite obvious.

But does that speculated extra meal really have so much bearing that it’s causing an epidemic? Socioeconomically speaking, the proof is there, slapping us in the face. Poorer subsets of people tend to have a higher rate of obesity. But surely there must be other factors to take into account here.

The Factors

Because state and federal government fund these programs, schools are often sent foods that are cheap and plentiful. You’ll see foods that are calorie dense and often lacking in some types of nutrients. Politics aside, we only have a certain amount of money that is allocated for these types of programs – it’s not Fogo de Chao, folks.

And let’s not forget the fact that many schools are dropping the ball on mandated exercise programs. Meanwhile children, especially in rougher neighborhoods, aren’t able to go outside at will and play in a safe area. Sometimes 45 minutes of activity at school is all these children are going to get.

Then, there’s the home environment. There are exponentially more fast food places and convenience stores than grocery stores in this country. And many poorer families operate with parents who often work extremely long hours, and have no method of transportation. They simply aren’t educated in this matter. This isn’t meant to be a generalization; it needs to be addressed.

Why aren’t these factors being taken into consideration?

We simply cannot put all of our eggs in one basket. Obesity is often more simple than we try to make it out to be, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes there are a plethora of factors that go into it, and for a health official to pinpoint such an overarching disease down to one thing is, in my opinion, just plain irresponsible. I’m not opposed to opinion, even if it doesn’t agree with mine. But it would be wise to educate ourselves before making blanket statements.

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Debbie spends her time at the Anytime Fitness corporate office writing and designing web content for the brand’s fabulous franchisees and staff. She has a B.S. in Dietetics, has been NASM certified in personal training, and specializes in weight loss. Her outlook on health and wellness is driven by her own 120-pound weight loss: she is a realist who doesn’t believe in diets, believes strongly in chocolate, and maintaining a healthy, sustainable balance in life. She takes a passionate interest in mental health, positive body image, and self-love. She’s an avid creator of music and mother of cats. She also can’t keep plants alive.