What do you think of Michelle Obama’s initiative to limit calories in school lunches?


Curbing obesity

Michelle Obama claims there’s a necessity for dietary education because there’s an obesity problem in the U.S. I used to disagree.

As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” We are America, and the hoity-toity nuances of foreign analogies can go stuff themselves. When we are led to water, they can’t make us stop drinking. We will have our cake and eat it too, regardless of nutritional content because sharing is a communistic endeavor, and anyone who doesn’t bleed red, white and blue from glucose imbalance should be dragged out and shot.

But the issue presents itself: With the 2012 election’s focus on the swing states, we can no longer pretend to the world that everything between California and New York is bison, cowboy hats and adorably latent racism. It’s a trend; many of the Midwestern states have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes. That being said, I think it is about time to listen to our first lady as she talks about the elephant in the room.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third (35.7 percent) of all Americans are obese. In 2008 alone, medical bills associated with obesity cost approximately $147 billion, roughly the GDP of Belarus.

Many would consider obesity a result of poverty. Now, I love blaming poor people as much as the next guy. If I haven’t yelled “get a job” in the direction of at least three homeless men by the end of the day, I’d feel inclined to get one myself.

But surprisingly, the CDC claims, “among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, those with higher incomes are more likely to be obese than those with low income.”

It’s not an issue of being able to afford only high-calorie food. The issue is education and Obama’s initiative to spearhead lessons about healthier lifestyles is the much-needed laxative to loosen America’s clogged digestive tracts.

Yet there’s been strong resistance.

Some may say, “It’s an over-step of government power deciding how a government-institution should do lunch,” or ask, “How dare they teach our kids the lessons we’ve failed to,” or say, “This limiting calorie count doesn’t factor in students who need extra energy.”

Fruits and vegetables aren’t restricted by the calorie count, meaning second helpings aren’t either.

Leaving students hungry

This August a new school lunch program began in schools nationwide. Michelle Obama proposed that the new lunch program only serves 650 calories to K-6 grade, 700 calories to 6-8 grade, and 850 calories to 9-12 grade.

The goals of the new lunch program are to lower the amounts of sodium, trans fat and saturated fat and reduce calories kids consume. Fruits and vegetables are offered to kids every day of the week, and only fat free and low-fat milk is served.

Michelle Obama’s plan doesn’t look like a bad idea, until you listen to how it is affecting the students. Students and parents complain that 850 calories is not enough. Teachers comment that they notice students are hungry an hour after they eat, making it harder to focus for their afternoon classes.

Parents complain that their children come home starving because of the lack of calories they receive throughout the day. Students with after school activities, such as athletic events, do not have enough energy to play to their full potential. Obama’s new lunch program may serve healthier food, but is it healthy for growing teenagers to receive less than the recommended amount of calories?

I understand Obama’s reasoning for wanting to change the program because it can help get kids in the habit of eating healthier. However, I believe it differs for teenagers because the teenage years are a time of rapid growth and development. All children are different and need varying amounts of calories per day, depending on their bodies.

A high school in Kansas shared their opinions about the new lunch program by creating a YouTube video called “We Are Hungry.” The lyrics from the song, “We Are Young,” by Fun were replaced to fit the new song.

The video showed students starving throughout the day, stuffing their locker with food and falling over in athletic practices. This video has reached over 870,000 views within two weeks and is making a statement nationwide.

I believe that the students in this video are just a few of the many who feel that Obama’s new lunch program is a difficult adjustment to make, especially to growing adolescents. Adolescents need more calories due to the amount of activity they perform. Therefore, 850 calories simply is not enough. We need to supply our children and adolescents with what they need in order for them to grow and develop properly.