Did you know?
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. This will offer healthier snacks to children, while limiting junk food.
Fast foods ... Junk foods ... Processed foods. All these have taken permanent residence in our lives. They're tasty, hassle-free, and some of the best 'anytime' snacks that always have at least a couple of takers. No wonder then that they are so popular. While junk foods are present everywhere in society, it remains a bone of contention whether these should be allowed in schools or whether there is a need for banning them. Why does this question arise? We shall find out more in the following Buzzle article. Just as every issue has both pros and cons, so does the issue of allowing junk foods in schools, and that is why it becomes important to discuss it in greater detail.
Given that this type of food has gained a large appeal in the masses, there are bound to be several benefits of the same. How do these benefits fit into allowing junk foods in the school scenario is what we will focus on in this section.
Quick and Easy
One of the main advantages of allowing junk foods in schools is that if on a particular day a child does not carry a lunch bag then he does not have to remain hungry and can easily have something to satiate his hunger. Along with that, it is one of those easy-to-eat foods that can be eaten on the go. Therefore, it saves a lot of time. Most of these foods are also quite cheap, such that it becomes economical to purchase them.
Change in Routine
Having junk food as a change in routine instead of making it a part of one's staple diet is considered alright. It does not have major effects on a person's health either if this approach is used and they are consumed once in a way. The problem only arises if it is being consumed regularly.
There are certain junk and processed foods that are made largely unhealthy by loading them with oils and unhealthy ingredients like excess sodium (found in salt) in order to achieve a longer shelf life. Instead of that, if foods like potato chips or juices are made available in the school cafeteria, there will be no need to depend on unhealthy choices from outside. Thus the same taste and thrill of having junk foods can be experienced without having to give in to unhealthy choices.
While the pros mainly focus on the fact that it is a convenient, easy-to-eat, and a tasty affair, there are several negative impacts that have been listed. Let us go into a little more detail in this section.
Junk foods are loaded with sodium, salts, and sugar so that they can have a longer shelf life. All these ingredients are very harmful to the human body because they cannot be broken down and therefore they build deposits in the body. Along with that, they also prevent the absorption of important minerals and nutrients, thereby directly affecting a person's immune system and metabolism, among other functions.
One of the main effects of fast foods is that it leads to obesity. With the reduced physical activity in this day and age, these unhealthy snacks add to the problem even more. They do not allow the food to be broken down, and therefore cause layers of fat to be deposited in the body. Along with that, junk foods normally use a lot of carbs, salts, and sugar, and more importantly, are devoid of any dietary fiber or other essential nutrients―all these factors lead to more obesity.
Other Health Issues
Along with an increase in obesity, there are several other health issues that begin to develop as well, because there are hardly any or no nutrients that are being consumed through this food. Along with depositing fat cells in the body, these foods also alter the rate of metabolism, thus bringing with it scores of other problems. Other than that, processed and junk foods are also known to alter the workings of the bodily hormones and thus lead to hormonal imbalance and an addiction to these foods. With constant and regular consumption, these foods could also lead to insulin resistance in a person (which could ultimately lead to hyperglycemia and Type 2 diabetes), heart problems like high blood pressure, liver and kidney problems, and a weakened immune system.
The sugar and sodium content starts off a very unhealthy cycle in a person's system. The minute he/she has a snack, there is a sudden burst of sugar and the person gets a spike of energy making him overactive and hyper. As the effects of the snack begin to fade, the person becomes sluggish and less aware. Until the time he takes another snack. Thus, he begins to depend on the snacks to get energy boosts. This, not only sets off a dependency on the snacks, but a non-availability of the same causes low energy levels, lack of concentration, and lethargy. All of which have a direct effect on the student's performance.
It is also argued that the younger kids in schools might not know the effects of consuming junk foods in high numbers and might continue to gorge on them because of their ready availability. Therefore, it poses a threat to begin with.
The USDA's (United States Department of Agriculture ) new 'Smart Snacks in School' is a program that has been drawn―in accordance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010―to establish nutrition standards for all foods that are sold in schools. This program balances the science-based nutrition guidelines with practical solutions to promote healthy eating on campus. The program has come about due to the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, in response to a proposal that was placed in early 2013.
Certain features of this program include the kind of food that should be encouraged and that which should be avoided, as well as the targeted standards which include the portion size and caffeine content. The program is quite flexible as far as important traditions are concerned and has allowed an entire academic year to the schools for the implementation of the same―it also offers training and technical support for the same. Another highlight is that the program is only applicable on the school campus and does not apply to after-school or sports activities.
These were some of the important arguments that were put out as an important part of the topic 'junk food in schools - pros and cons'. Based on both, one can now draw their own conclusions whether junk food should be allowed or banned in schools. But more than that, it becomes important that one provides their kids with healthy and balanced foods and informs them of the disadvantages of consuming high doses of junk food. When kids are educated, they will make healthier choices for themselves and will not be tempted to have junk food simply because it is available in the school premises.