Friday, April 07, 2006

Junk Food Education

The April 7th Lawrence Journal-World story entitled “Bill aims to rid schools of junk food options” discusses the problems of junk food in our nation's schools and the recently introduced federal legislation intended to update the nutrition standards for all food sold/distributed in our public schools. However, the article ignored what I thought to be the fundamental reason why junk food has infiltrated our nation’s public schools over the last twenty years. As the general importance that US society places on public education as slowly waned, along with the associated funding, public schools have, in part, resorted to good ol’ fashioned capitalism to make up the difference.

Deals with junk food manufacturers to place their vending machines on school campuses have proven lucrative. But the consequences have proven unhealthy to our nation’s children, and over the long term the increase in obesity (and associated health problems) that this has helped create will further stress our nation’s increasingly dysfunctional health care system.

I agree with the general sentiment that problems often arise when implementing federal legislation and regulation at the local level, often due to inadequate accounting for local variability. But this doesn’t negate the fact that such federal actions are sometime needed to balance the interests of capitalism with the long-term health and welfare of the nation, albeit in a smart, efficient, and effective manner that is accountable for local needs.

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