Almanac

Viewpoint - February 17, 2010

Letter: Join First Lady's fight against obesity

Two weeks ago, First Lady Michelle Obama called on the U.S. Conference of Mayors to help her fight the national scourge of childhood obesity. She noted that one-third of all children are overweight or obese. She proposed healthier school lunch fares, increased physical activity, and nutrition education.

Traditionally, the National School Lunch Program has served as a dumping ground for U.S. Department of Agriculture's surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, USDA's own surveys indicate that 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

In the past few years, several state legislatures have asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options. According to the School Nutrition Association, 52 percent of U.S. school districts now do. Last fall, the Baltimore City Public School system became the first in the United States to offer its 80,000 students a complete weekly break from meat.

Parents and others who care about our children's health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items.

Miles Barne

Sharon Park Drive, Menlo Park

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