Much Ado About Lunching: Are Schools to Blame for Childhood Obesity?

We know by now that obesity is a huge problem. But whose problem is it? Mine? Yours? The government's? How about our schools'?

A survey presented at the 2013 Childhood Obesity Conference (using data from a Kaiser Permanente poll) revealed that 90% of Americans think schools have a responsibility when it comes to fighting childhood obesity. More than half took it a step further and said schools should not only have a role, but that they should take the lead. Only 19% of participants said obesity was a personal issue.

The survey also revealed that 78% of parents think healthy school lunches will help improve obesity rates in children. Other agreed upon solutions when it comes to schools and obesity included more walking routes to schools, fresh water available in schools, and physical exercise. Parents agreed with new standards that promote more produce and whole grains and less salt in school lunches.

Related: 20 gross, disturbing food facts you'll wish you didn't know

Although a large majority of parents think schools should play a role in combating obesity and improving school food, I find it interesting that only half of parents think junk food shouldn't be sold in schools. How are we sending a message to kids to eat healthier food while selling them junk?

This sparked an interesting debate on the With a Side of Sneakers Facebook page (the Facebook page for my blog). Where I would have assumed most people would agree that schools should play a bigger role, that wasn't the case with everyone. Some agreed, but others said the responsibility falls in the hands of parents. They said it doesn't matter what schools do - in the end, it comes down to what the parents teach their kids is okay. While I tend to agree what happens at home is a huge factor in a kid's point of view, what about the parents that don't have that education themselves? Those of us who know about healthy eating sometimes take it for granted and assume everyone has the same knowledge.

What do you think? Do schools and government initiatives have enough influence on our kids, or it doesn't matter because it's up to the parents?

-By Heather Neal

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