The New School Lunch

USDA School Lunch

photo used under a creative commons license

“For the past 10 years, I have noticed a connection between childhood obesity, eating disorders, and the increasing complications of both in my clinical work as well as in my research. As part of my mission to shed light on these problems, particularly as they relate to US children, I find it important to provide both by readers and clients with relevant informative articles. You can view all of my Childhood Obesity Articles here. Also, be sure to read my Nutrition, Fitness, and Health articles here.


This week, the USDA announced the new requirements for school breakfasts and lunches. This marks the first major overhaul to the requirements in over 15 years! Although the changes aren’t as significant as the Obama administration would have liked, the new requirements are definitely a step in the right direction in the right direction. The changes are definitely worthy of praise.

By implementing these new requirements, it is hoped that there will be a noticeable decrease in the number of obese children. In the past 30 years, our nation has experienced a threefold increase in childhood obesity rates. The result? One in three children in our country are now overweight. It is becoming increasingly more common for our children to leave their pediatricians office with a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions and joint deterioration; diseases which have historically been unheard of in youth populations. Recent studies predict that the epidemic of childhood obesity will result in a 2-5 year decrease in life expectancy. This will be the first generation since the Great Depression that our children are projected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

So what changes will we see in the foods that our country’s children are being served at schools? Here’s the breakdown…..

I really love how they are requiring a wide variety of vegetables on a weekly basis. Kids will get a wide variety of nutrients by eating all the ‘colors of the rainbow’, it will also give kids the opportunity to discover new fruits and vegetables.

There has been much controversy over schools being permitted to classify ‘pizza’ as a ‘vegetable’ because it contains 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. The new requirements do allow ‘pizza’ to be classified as a ‘vegetable’, but children will be required to have an additional serving of vegetables on their tray alongside the pizza.

I don’t necessarily agree with this change. Previously, I have discussed the disadvantages of low-fat milk. When I choose milk for both myself and my grandsons, I stick to these guidelines . When it comes to low-fat milk, some of the most respected health gurus in our country say:

“Low fat milk causes weight gain. This is how farmers fatten pigs. If they give them whole milk, the pigs stay lean.

Low fat milk is missing all the vitamins that you get in the fat. The industry has figured out that they make a lot more money on butter and butterfat if they put it in ice cream. So they take the cream out of the milk, put it into ice cream. They would much rather you spend the money on ice cream, than on butter or buttercream; they make a lot more money.”
-Sally Fallon, Weston A. Price Foundation

“A note on the production of skim milk powder: liquid milk is forced through a tiny hole at high pressure, and then blown out into the air. This causes a lot of nitrates to form and the cholesterol in the milk is oxidized. Those of you who are familiar with my work know that cholesterol is your best friend; you don’t have to worry about natural cholesterol in your food; however, you do not want to eat oxidized cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, to atherosclerosis. So when you drink reduced-fat milk thinking that it will help you avoid heart disease, you are actually consuming oxidized cholesterol, which initiates the process of heart disease.”
-Weston A. Price Foundation, Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry

“Let us get rid of one fallacy which is that skim milk is actually milk that has had the cream skimmed off the top. That actually sounds logical but it is not how is done, at least not in this modern world. That process would not remove all the cream so what is done in modern processing is the milk is spun around with centrifuges, eventually completely separating the cream (fat) and milk. It is first clarified, then separated, then pasteurized (or ultra-pasteurized), and then finally homogenized. This over-processing has now removed every healthy vitamin, living enzyme, and natural mineral. Welcome to your now-dead beverage……Skim milk will not support life. So by removing the cream you have essentially turned the milk into something completely useless, especially the pasteurized variety as you have not only removed the healthy fat but you have also as stated removed the living nutrients.”
-Raw Milk Truth

“Researchers from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute conducted a study that monitored the dietary habits of more than 20,000 Swedish women for a decade. It turned out that women who consumed full fat milk or cheese had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than the rest of the group. The results were convincing enough for the researchers to recommend that a glass of full fat milk every day will cut weight gain by 15%, and a portion of full fat cheese each day will cut weight gain by 30%. Alicja Wolk, professor at the Karolinska Institute stated, ‘The surprising conclusion was that increased consumption of (full fat) cheese meant that overweight women lost weight.’

Yet skim and 1% milk is pervasive in school lunch programs, and throughout the American diet. If you summarize the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food pyramid you see an emphasis on grains plus skim milk, the very combination that fattens hogs so efficiently! In fact, the USDA recommends we start the low-fat habit early: children as young as pre-school are recommended to consume non-fat or low fat milk, yogurt and cheese. With a food pyramid like this it’s little wonder we face an obesity epidemic from childhood onward.”
-Ann M Childers, MD. Life Balance Northwest

“Guess what they feed a pig if they want to make it as fat as possible as fast as possible?

Low-fat milk, because if they give the pig milk with fat in it, the pig gets satiated. It’s satisfied and won’t eat any more. But if they give it low-fat milk, it will eat the grain they feed it forever because it’ll have a deficiency of fat.

Now think of what we’re eating for breakfast in this country…

If you don’t want to get fat you’re told to drink low-fat milk, and corn or wheat or oat-based cereal.

It’s the prescription to make you as fat as possible as quickly as you can get there. You’ll never stop wanting to eat because you’re never getting any food that causes satiation.

Americans are told to eat a diet that is scientifically designed to make you as fat as possible as fast as possible.”
-Dr. Al Sears, MD. Power for Healthy Living

Again, I’m not completely on board with this change. There are some saturated fats that would benefit our children, such as coconut fat.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison, showing the foods that meet the current requirements versus the foods that will be served under the new requirements (from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services)

So, how quickly can we expect to see these changes implemented? About 1000 schools in the US are already feeding their kids according to these new guidelines. Many other schools have already started making changes by offering some more healthier choices, such as salad bars. The current plan, however, is to phase all of the new requirements into the schools over the next five years.

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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

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