The end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century has been plagued by many serious issues that have continued to threaten the lives of human beings across the globe. The United States in particular has continued to face a lot of challenges in regard to human health. Whereas there have been a lot of serious diseases such as cancer and HIV/Aids, the eating habits of the American people has raised concerns over the ability of the American society to deal with health issues such as obesity. In line with this, the recent past has seen an increased debate on the relationship between school lunches and obesity among children. In other words, school lunches have in the recent past been cited as one of the major causes of childhood obesity in the American society.
Whereas schools in the American society are committed to easing the burden of on parents by providing lunch for their children and thus creating a humble time that will allow these children to learn effectively, there are serious issues that have been raised in regard to the food that is provided as lunch to these children. In reference to Belkin (2006), seventeen percent of children are overweight, and many more are gaining rapid weight and being diagnosed with diseases that were considered for the old such as diabetes. Following this point, it is important for one to understand that these are serious figure as compared to the total number of school-going children. According to Belkin (2006), school cafeterias have continually offered junk foods to unsuspecting children; unsuspecting because they are unable to tell the harm that such foods can cause to their health.
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It was found out that most foods that were provided in schools as lunch in the past contained more than 34% of calories.
However, according to the Clinton Administration, the nationally allowed food calorie in these lunches was set at 30%. However, Belkin (2006) affirms that the level of calories in these meals has never gone below 34%, 4% higher than the set limit. In this regard, it is difficult to believe or rather accept that schools are doing their best to ensure that children are healthy. In fact, their actions in terms of health seriously contradict what they teach in classes, especially on food and health.
The obesity problem has not been detected by the general society alone. Recent report from the retired military officers indicated that recruitment process of the American military was faced with challenges due to overweight problems among the recruits that was attributed to school lunches (Jalonick, 2010). In this regard, it was noted that most young people between the age of 15 and 24 were too fat to join the military. These arguments were backed up by the fact that most of these young people received more than a third of their body calories by consuming food that they were given at school.
It was noted with concern that these schools, inasmuch as they provided lunch for students, they were unable to access a variety of foodstuffs that could provide a health diet for them. In this regard, the only option that these schools were left with was to offer junk food to these students, who on the other hand could not reject it (Paxon, 2006, p.114). Among the meals they provided were greasy, fried and unhealthy meals and beverages that were rich in calories.
Whereas this may be overlooked as a simple issue in the society, it was important for the government of the United States to realize that its health foundations were at risk of crumpling at any moment in time. In this regard, the government of the United States could not in any way ignore the danger signal that had been blinking for sometime in relation to the health status of the young people in the society. In conjunction with this, this nation has a sole responsibility of laying down intervention measures to stop and reverse the current trends as it relates to obesity among school going children due to the meals they are fed on.
There were various reasons that warranted the intervention of the United States' government. To begin with, there were serious risks that national security faced as a result of prevalence of obesity epidemic. As it was argued out by the retired military officers, there were needs for the government of the United States to be involved actively in formulating plans and strategies that would enable students in school to be provided with healthy meals or rather a balanced diet while at the same time eliminating junk foods in schools. These military officers noted that it was difficult for many young people to join the military and fight due to being overweight (Jalonick, 2010). If such trends were not reversed, the US would not be able to raise a military unit to defend its borders, not as a result of lack of people who were willing to fight, but as a result of obesity.
National security was not the only issue that emerged when considering the issue of obesity among school going children in the United States. On a broader perspective, the government of the US had increased its spending on healthcare programs, in particular on obesity in the recent times. In reality, there were many diseases in the American society that were directly linked to obesity, with research predicting that there was an increase in the number of people that had a potential of getting diabetic in future. Similarly, there were risks that the American economy faced due to obesity. First, the government spending on diseases and ailments that were associated with obesity had increased in the recent past. Therefore, instead of channeling these funds into other areas of the economy, they were channeled towards dealing with obesity. Consequently, this had continued to strain the budgetary plans of the US thus straining its economy (Belkin, 2006).
In addition, the future of American economy was at risk since obesity had been found to reduce the lifespan of the Americans by a substantial margin. This therefore meant that many people who were still productive in the society would die early thus and as a result create a production lapse in the American economy (David & Thomas, 2005, p.402). If this continued for a period of time, the economy of the United States would be unable to sustain itself. In its place, it would rely on outsourcing manpower from other nations which was more expensive than when this manpower was from within its boundaries. Therefore, failure by the US government to provide healthier meals to students would act as a recipe for economic, health and security challenge in days to come.
With this in mind, it was important to realize that obesity was and would continue to be one of the greatest health risks in the 21st century society.
As it was noted, school lunches had been one of the major contributors of obesity among children in the society. This was a result of the fact that these children obtained a third of their total amount of calories that were consumed from meals they were fed on in schools. In this regard, the government of the United States had a responsibility of intervening and helping these schools to provide balance diet meals to these children to in order to reduce obesity cases. Failure to respond to these needs by the government would jeopardize national security and the economy as a whole since obesity disabled productive age groups in the society.
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