Why The South Beach Diet Doesn't Work in Schools

Last year, I told you about the live experiment being conducted in a handful of Florida elementary schools by the folks who devised the South Beach Diet to address the epidemic of obesity in America where it may do the most good: Children living in poverty.

But the job has turned out to be must more difficult than anyone thought, largely due to a plodding bureaucracy frighteningly slow to change and kids even more resolute about holding onto to their hamburgers and French fries. The eventual solution by the Agatston Research Foundation: Substituting high-fat versions of high-fat snack and lunch foods for "healthier" pre-made items.

Unfortunately, reformulating "healthier" versions of these same flawed foods is often nothing more than, for example, preparing an organic Twinkie, and, do we need anymore of those? (Besides, many school lunchrooms across the country, like the Florida schools, simply aren't equipped to cook nutritious meals.)

The problem with the South Beach mindset: Focusing on low fat and total fat, rather than the type of fat consumed. Reducing omega-6 and trans fats should be have been the goal, but instead the South Beach "experts" focused on substituting low-fat pasteurized processed cheese for than regular fat cheese. Changes like this won't improve the health of America's overweight kids.

If we don't reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in short order, children may live shorter lives than their parents due to the onset of classic, middle-age health problems earlier than anyone ever anticipated.

Are you unsure the plague of childhood obesity is a problem in your home? If so, I urge you to review the seven risk factors for childhood obesity and take the appropriate steps.

New York Times August 20, 2006 Registration Required

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