Dr. Arthur Agatston, cardiologist and creator of the South Beach Diet, agrees. He told the New York Times, “The lunchroom culture is fast food. But it shouldn’t be fast food. The teacher should be sitting at the table with a tablecloth for a civilized meal. I think it’s a huge learning opportunity for kids.”
From the rising obesity rates in the U.S., it appears school lunches are a missed opportunity with potentially serious consequences. USA Today reports government statistics that show 25 million kids are considered overweight or obese in this country today. In addition, around 35 million students eat lunch in school every day, with more than 11 million eating breakfast at school as well. That means the majority of children in this country are getting between 30 and 50 percent of their daily caloric intake from what they consume at school.
Research suggests that when people consume meals faster, they tend to take in more calories and still feel hungry much sooner. Deborah Taylor, director of the Shawnee School Nutrition Services in Oklahoma, told USA Today that when people look back on the childhood obesity epidemic, they may blame the way kids rushed through meals, both at school and at home.
Healthy Food Guidelines May Not be Enough