Thursday, September 29, 2005

Child nutrition programs around the world

Britain will ban junk food from school meals and in-school vending machines beginning next September, the BBC reported yesterday.

In related coverage, the BBC last spring had reporters around the world describe local school meals programs. From France:

In a country where food is virtually the national religion, school meals are naturally a subject of intense interest, not least as the nation worries about the rising obesity rate among its children, especially the under-15s.

Many schools already employ their own nutritionist, who works with a parents' committee to ensure lunches provide a healthy, balanced diet.

Much more is spent per meal than in Britain, with a French school lunch costing anything from £1.50 to £4 a head, depending on region. Poorer parents pay only a portion of the total.

And there's no pandering to children's love of pizzas, burgers or chips; these are adult menus served in child-size portions, as the French believe good eating habits start early.

From the United States:

Walk into almost any school cafeteria in the United States and the students will be grousing about the "mystery meat" and the pile of green stuff on their plates that once in a former life was spinach.

Students don't like the food, which means as soon as they can drive, they head off campus to the nearest fast food franchise.

And critics say that school lunches contribute to the fattening of the United States.

The humble school lunch has had more than its fair share of controversy in the US. Attempts to limit the amount of fat by limiting the servings of French fries have only been met by student rebellion.

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