Why Junk food should be banned in public schools

Junk food has been a bane not because it was cooked to be eaten but because it has been sold in schools and has hence affected lots of changes in children across the world in respect of behavior patterns, study patterns, etc. These foods have minimal nutritional value. For this reason many schools across the world have banned the sale of junk food on campus. Among the prohibited foods and beverages are caffeinated drinks, carbonated beverages, juice drinks with less than some percentage of juice, foods of which the final preparation method is deep-fat fried, sports drinks, energy drinks; and pastries including doughnuts, croissants, sweet rolls and cupcakes. Arguably America has survived on these food items and hence has imbibed this culture at schools also for a very long time.The other extreme of malnourishment is the prevalence of obesity among school going children, especially in the urban areas. While this is not yet an alarming trend in the country, most developed countries have sounded alarm to curb this 20th century malady. Obesity can lead to diabetes, high cholesterol and heart diseases. Blame it on soda, burger, candy and other junk food. Steps are needed to be taken to encourage a healthier lifestyle among our people and we can start with our schools. After all, kids must be stronger in both mind and body. Right now junk food is popular because it is cheap and their television advertisements are effective in satiating our appetite. Well, let us create a market for healthy food, especially native snacks, and if we buy these products, we may help push the prices down.A very successful example of United Kingdom can be followed by marking healthy products with green stickers and junk food with red markers.Currently, foods of minimal nutritional value are available in school vending machines and at the same cafeteria line as mandated school lunch foods, which were subject to certain nutritional standards.Most restrictions on children’s access to non nutritious foods in schools are now voluntary, a system that industry groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Beverage Association say works very well. Both groups said the panel’s recommended portion sizes were too small.There has obviously been a lot of controversy over time as to whether the junk food ban would be successful or not, but finally, we will see the effectiveness of the policy once the schools re-open. In my personal view, it definitely won’t hurt. Though some argue that the ban will be rendered useless as kids bring junk food from home and some go off campus to eat, none argue that the junk food ban would be harmful to the students. After all, with 1 in 5 students being obese today compared to 1 in 20 in the 1970s, something must clearly be done. However, the food ban might cause a few problems for the school cafeteria and moreover for many of the clubs who bank on fundraisers.Not only that, many clubs who have in the past depended on candy fundraisers and bake sales for their income have already had to start thinking of new ideas to make money. And it’s not going to be easy for them. Candy sales were definitely one of the most profitable fundraisers around and there aren’t many people that would be willing to pay a dollar for fruit bars and orange juice as opposed to Reese’s or Coke. A seemingly beneficial ban really is painful for these fundraisers.Nevertheless, the outlook is bright. The alternative menu items which include pasta, and deep pan pizza are not horribly disgusting (though most of us found the option of guava juice a bit strange). I feel most kids will continue buying food from the cafeteria either because the parents are too busy or lazy to make lunch for their children, or the kids are just too lazy to drive themselves to some other restaurant.A handful of countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland have government regulation on junk-food advertising.While the health ministry in India has also been considering a crackdown on junk-food ads, it’s talking tough on restricting junk food by making labeling mandatory, developed countries like the US can surely take a cue from the third world countries to appreciate their concern towards children’s health. The proposed Food Safety and Standards Act should be brought into force which covers all aspects of processed-food labeling, including nutrition content, percentage of fat, calories and GM labeling for foods containing genetically-modified organisms.Consumer groups in the USA, however, have been demanding a ban on marketing junk food to children. “We want a complete ban on junk food TV ads from 6 am to 9 pm, no unhealthy food in school canteen, high taxation of processed foods high in salt, fat and sugar to reduce accessibility,” said Carol White, executive director, Consumer Voice.The perception that “puppy or baby fat” disappears as children grow is a myth that puts their future health at risk, the British Medical Journal said earlier this year. While earlier studies showed that excess weight during teenage years pre-disposes adults to continued weight problems, the BMJ study found that the health problems were established before teenage years.Some of the health risks associated with obesity are heart disease, type-2 diabetes, orthopedic problems such as weight stress in the joints of the lower limbs and bowed legs, skin disorders such as heat rash, and psychological problems such as poor self-esteem and depression. And once the seeds are sown the problems arise later at a much easier pace in children’s lives.As an ideologically-correct Marxist with little understanding of economics, people were shocked and outraged when high schools across California invited Pepsi to install two vending machines in the hallways. People gracefully argued with the authorities saying that Pepsi vending machines are not sought after as kids will become obese with its over consumption.On the other hand if parents limit junk food in the diet at home and help kids understand why, it begins to change the mindset. Toss the overdose of peppys, sugared breakfast cereals, chips, candy bars, and preservative-laden, empty carbohydrate foods at home and explain why we eat differently to our children. Parents should set the pace and teach, not lazily rely on laws and hope that banning junk food will somehow teach their children about how to be healthy and eat well because there are good reasons to do it. Teaching kids how to eat for a long and healthy life goes beyond a band aid approach to junk food bans in the school, and is critical to their well-being, in my opinion. Children can practice making good choices and we should guide them through example and talking/explaining when they fail to make good ones. Making good choices only comes with practice doing so. The less opportunity they have to do this, the more likely it is they will not be able to or know how to make good choices for themselves when rules are unclear or absent. This is a bigger issue than junk food.