Food regulators and school administrations are pushing on in the battle against unhealthy food, as a recent study found that most of the healthy meals – fruits and veggies – served in schools end up in the trash, and not into the kids’ mouths.
It turns out that the implementation of the USDA rule that resulted in a whopping 95 percent of schools offering healthier meals might have backfired. Researchers at the University of Vermont recently found that “children consumed fewer [fruits and vegetables] and wasted more,” a report covering the school year following the rule enactment.
Joe Colangelo, head of Consumers’ Research, the consumer advocacy organization handling product testing, told FOX News that in spite of wanting to change the way schoolchildren eat across America with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the government still has trouble influencing the citizens’ eating habits.
A new study conducted by NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and co-authored by Marie Bragg has concluded that regulating children’s fast food meals could be a better way in encouraging them to eat healthier.
Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study analyzed fast food purchases that 358 adults made for 422 children. New Jersey and New York City were the sites for the research between 2013 and 2014, and three of the top fast food restaurants were included in the data: McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.
It turns out 600 calories is the average of fast food for each child, 200 of whom were just fat. Averaging on 869 mg, the meals’ salt content was also over half of the total daily recommendation set by the American Heart Association.
More than just pointing out the flaws in the adults’ food purchasing habits, researchers went further and proposed a new policy to the New York City Council. According to their strategy, any meal that comes with a small toy – children’s menus, usually – must include a healthy serving, be it whole grain, fruit or vegetable.
They also added that children’s meals must not exceed 500 calories and fat and salt restrictions should also be integrated in the planning of the servings. According to the report, 35 percent of the participating children were regular consumers of kids’ meals that included a toy. Researchers also noted that 98 percent of the meals covered in the study currently don’t meet the proposed standards.
Toy giveaways at fast-food chains have been around for a long time, luring children into eating cheeseburgers, sodas, French fries – food that has poor nutritional value. Researchers believe it’s time that new policies will nudge children toward healthier behaviors.
Image Source: Salon