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Attacking Childhood Obesity in School Cafeterias

Even though we can't expect much, if any help, from health officials or industry to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity, schools systems are attacking the problem in a different way: By retooling their cafeteria menus.

This excellent Time piece shows how two school districts from opposite ends of the economic spectrum fight obesity, one with dollars and the other with behind-the-scenes tinkering.

On one side is the Berkeley, Calif., school system that is a great example of school lunch reform, with Berkeley High students lining up for made-to-order organic salads while a pizza station was empty, while accumulating yearly budget losses to the tune of $250,000.

Then, there's the dietician of the Shawnee, Okla., school district who accepted the job 14 years ago, knowing she had to make a profit or lose her job. Sadly, she relies on junk food sales and sleight-of-hand food preparation -- baked chicken nuggets, vegetarian beans and pizza topped with low-fat cheese -- not-too-great alternatives that are better than doing nothing at all.

That's why it's important, no matter where you live, to set appropriate nutritional guidelines for your family and talk to your children about why they are so important to their health. You'll also have to make the time to create meals and snacks for them to eat too.

Time Magazine June 4, 2006 Registration Required

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