Healthy Foods in L.A. Campuses

Campuses and colleges in Los Angeles are on the verge of starting something dynamic.  The Los Angeles Unified School District, comprising of 713 member-campuses, in hoping to curb or at least lessen the numbers of adolescents who are obese, have been implementing procedural technicalities in banning the sale of fats-enriched foods and high sugar and sodium content in all its member canteens.  As stated in an article, concerns have been raised regarding some illnesses that used to be exclusive to adult age groups that have now become common among children and teens, such as high blood pressure, clogging of arteries, and type-2 diabetes (DiMassa, 1).  The apparent neglect by the school and health authorities in the past have resulted in the ballooning of obese children aged 6 to 19, to over 15% of the age group population; a significant climb of 6% as compared to two decades ago (DiMassa, 1).  Steps now are on their way to retard this health predicament.With hopes of cutting back the sugar consumption of children, initial steps have been made through the signing of the bill that would ban the sales of sodas in public elementary, middle, as well as junior high schools’ vending machines.  Other Sates have been previously practicing this; Texas had earlier banned junk foods in its schools, while New York had already banned all types of junk foods in all of its school vending machines (DiMassa, 2).  Many other states have also been mulling over imposing the same bill.The hearing set for the bill resulted in its approval, with 6 out of the 7 board members voting positively for the said bill.  Along with this comes a plan to include at least one vegetarian menu.  Superintendent Roy Romer, director for Los Angeles schools, has in mind the provision for the opening of salad bars among the campuses within his jurisdiction, within a 2 to 6 year-timeframe.  This provision also calls for the cancelation off all existing contracts with popular fast-food- corporations (DiMassa, 2).  A great number of social and activist’ groups have thrown their support behind this project, some of those include: Healthy Schools Coalition, Center for Food Justice, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Los Angeles Food Justice Network, Public Citizen, and the Verde coalition (DiMassa, 3).However, some authorities are worried of the financial loses this bill would create.  As stated by Rick Prizant, Birmingham High School athletic director, setting up of marketing perimeters on these multi-million companies would mean school losses amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, previously intended for athletic programs, school dances, field trips, and other extra-curricular activities (DiMassa, 3).B.B.C. NewsArnold Schwarzenegger, the former Mr. Universe and actor, and presently the Governor of California, had signed into law the banning of junk foods in all California high schools; an endeavor in his fight against child obesity.  The Governor said it aptly in a report by the BBC News, “We are going to terminate obesity in California once and for all!” (1).  The said law will also include high schools in the already-existing ban of sodas on elementary levels.New limits had been set on the sugar and fats content of the food being served and sold in campus canteens and vending machines in California.  For instance, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and other snacks must have a limit of 4 grams of fat per 100 calories and an entirety not exceeding 400 calories (BBC News, 1).  Drinks will only include water, milk, fruit juices, and some brands of sports drinks with minimum amounts of sweeteners.Susan Neely, president of American Beverage Association, or ABA, has expressed her belief that such law imposing the ban on sodas is unnecessary.  She stresses that it would be better for the students to be presented with a choice by making the project a voluntary program instead (BBC News, 1).  Marty Marshall, the chairwoman of the California School Nutrition Association, however, is of the opposite thought.  As reported by BBC New, she stated, “We won’t be selling 283 gram burritos at 700 calories and shouldn’t be” (1).Governor Schwarzenegger, in a photo-op with cycling legend Lance Armstrong and a few hundreds of Californian school children during a 1-kilometer walk, talks about his vision: “California is facing an obesity epidemic; today we are taking some first steps in creating a healthy future for California” (BBC News, 1).CBS NewsThe Institute of Medicine, or IOM, recently announced its recommendation on the proper and healthy dietary food guidelines that schools across the nation ought to compel.  The said recommendation seeks to impose a restriction on the selling on vending machines and campus snack bars of some snacks that are found to be dangerous to the general health of the school populace.  These include sodas, candies, potato chips, pizza, burritos, and others found to have high-fats and sodium content.  It is also included within the report to limit the portion sizes of food served in relation to its fats/sodium content (Zwillich, 1).IOM’s recommendations’ main purpose for the report is to promote healthy eating habits and to replace the junk foods in the campuses with more healthy alternatives like fruits, whole grain snack products, low-sugar beverages, and others.  It aims to help America find the answers to the rising numbers of obesity among its citizens, especially in children and adolescents.  Virginia Stallings, a pediatrics professor at University of Pennsylvania, and was the chairwoman of the panel that wrote the recommendation, stated in a report by CBS News,Because foods and beverages available on the school campus make up a substantial proportion of the daily calorie intake, they should contribute to a healthy environment. (1)Various multi-million dollar food corporations that are currently under contract with schools in America have signified their pledges for the voluntary limiting of their sales of junk foods in American public schools.  Alison Kretser, the senior director of nutrition for Grocery Manufacturers of America, has stated in a report, that despite of IOM’s report as being beneficial to the fight against child obesity, it has neglected the remarkable progress in campus food environment during the past years, and that this progress was the result of cooperation and discussions among the food industry, teachers, parents, and health organizations (Zwillich, 1).Article ComparisonThe three abovementioned authorities in L.A: the Los Angeles Unified School District, Institute of Medicine, and Governor Schwarzenegger, responsible for food nutrition in L.A. campuses were of one basic aim: the promotion of a health-conscious generation through the enforcement of a healthy diet among L.A.’s school canteens.  Their reports had focused on their growing concerns for the high fats and sodium content that the American fast food industries that are present in the campuses have been feeding the younger set generations.  Facts were presented in their reports, regarding the ill-effects of having too much of such a diet; included were statistics on the obese Americans ranging from 6 to 19 years of age, the illnesses commonly associated with the presence of high blood pressure, and the professional comments regarding the topic.  Disadvantages were also presented, mostly with regards to the monetary losses a school would unavoidably incur in banning such high-selling products.A point worth noting, however, would be BBC News’ report on Gov. Schwarzenegger.  Being a politician, it is understandable and normal for him to acquire the services of a famous Lance Armstrong and photo-journalists in conveying his message.  Unlike the other two reports that dealt with it in a straight forwardly manner, giving only facts and professional commentaries on the subject, BBC News could have conveyed it in a more truthful manner by excluding the Governor’s antics.ConclusionAmong the three articles in reference on this paper, the author finds the report done by LA Times as the most complete and well-rounded.  Its studies encompassed topics referring to the population ratio of the obese, the infirmities related to such cases, authorities within the State being reported, financial considerations resulting from the ban, inadequacies resulting from the said law, and other topics, making the entire report a well-researched piece.It was also apparent that the report contained no traces of bias and prejudice, as was evidenced by the inclusion of interviewees with conflicting principles and lines of thought, yet still with statements being supported by facts.Works CitedCalifornia Bans School Junk Food. BBC News.com. 16 September 2005. 17 May 2009<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4251928.stm>DiMassa, Cara Mia. Sale of Junk Food at School Banned. Los Angeles Times. 29, October 2003. 17 May 2009 <http://nature.berkeley.edu/cwh/PDFs/news/junk_food_banned_LA_Times_10-29-03.pdf>Zwillich, Todd. Report Calls on Sale of Healthy Snacks in Public Schools. CBS News. 25, April 2007. 17 May 2009 <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/26/health/webmd/main2730033.shtml