Junk Food in Schools

In recent years, public health officials and school administrators have come to realize that schools are frequently working against the cause of sound nutrition in children and adolescents. Many school districts have negotiated exclusive contracts with fast food and beverage companies to provide their products to students, with a portion of the revenues going to the schools. As a result, cafeteria and vending machine lunches commonly include pizza, burgers, chips, soda, candy, and ice cream. Exacerbating the situation, approximately twelve thousand schools (with eight million students) show Channel One, which features commercials promoting junk food. The United States Department of Agriculture and five major medical associations have called for school administrators to reverse this trend and foster better nutrition in schools. The movement has begun to take hold, as school systems including Los Angeles, New York, and Texas have taken steps to ban junk food from vending machines and cafeterias.

—Paula Kepos energy: technically, the ability to perform work; the content of a substance that allows it to be useful as a fuel fat: type of food molecule rich in carbon and hydrogen, with high energy content psychological: related to thoughts, feelings, and personal experiences environment: surroundings junk food: food with high fat and sugar content, without correspondingly high amounts of protein, vitamins, or minerals fast food: food requiring minimal preparation before eating, or food delivered very quickly after ordering in a restaurant calorie: unit of food energy obesity: the condition of being overweight, according to established norms based on sex, age, and height globalization: development of worldwide economic system convenience food: food that requires very little preparation for eating physical education class daily. It is not surprising, given such findings, that childhood obesity is increasing.

Vending machines in schools also contribute to the obesity problem of school children. Many schools have signed contracts with beverage companies to place vending machines in schools. Schools receive huge amounts of "kickback" money for these contracts. In return, vending machines offer high-calorie non-nutritious sodas to students. Many vending machines in schools also provide snacks that are high in calories, fats, and sugars.

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