Eating Right… by Law!

snack machines

The federal government is attempting to regulate all snacks sold in vending machines at schools in order to encourage healthy eating among children.

We all want to eat right, even if  we don’t. We want children (especially our own children) to eat right, don’t we? If the federal government is going to decide what foods go into your child’s vending machine at school, there are two important questions that we must answer:

1. Are we glad that our choices are restricted?

2. Who’s responsibility is it to make those choices? Is it really the federal government’s job to decide which foods my child can or cannot eat at school?

While intentions are wonderful, this presents a challenge as to who decides or dictates, in this case, what we and our children will eat. The state of California is currently grappling with the same issue. As of July 1, public schools no longer offer soda drinks in campus vending machines. There really is no person or group that is “for” students drinking soda and eating junk food, except for the companies that sell these products. However, there does remain a discussion over who makes these kinds of decisions.

By this same reasoning, we should not sell cigarettes to adults. Maybe we should even mandate gym membership, or some sort of exercise regimen? However healthy it may be, it sounds dictatorial and some might say “un-American” to make demands and/or restrictions on our personal lifestyle choices.  Yet, this is what’s going on with food in the public schools right now. If these type of decisions are made in a public school, perhaps the people to make the changes would be state, local or even school representatives. The federal government may be overstepping its bounds to interfere in local schools in this manner.

Supporters of the program would offer a different view. First, public schools are exactly that, public and, therefore, run by the state. Furthermore, studies continue to show increasing rates of obesity among young people in the last decade. The average high school student will put on twenty pounds because of the soda they drink while in school. If you consider the additional junk foods in vending machines, there’s no telling how much thinner teenagers will be — unless they find other ways to snack!

The other part of the equation when it comes to weight is exercise. There is no denying that video games and the Internet have contributed to more sedentary recreational activities for teenagers. That is just as important as eating right. However, aside from mandated physical education classes, there is not much the state can do to encourage physical activity. You never know, someone in Washington, DC may have a plan to mandate that too!

What do you think? Should the federal government make decisions on what foods your child can purchase in the school vending machines? Do you want your child to have the option of junk or health food? Or, would you rather the decision come locally?

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