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« Week Three Pick'em Results [Ben] | Main | NYT Reviews Obama Foreign Policy; Doesn't Find Many Successes »
September 25, 2012

Michelle Obama's Restricted-Calories Lunch Menu Sparks Outcry

Apparently we've solved all serious problems. We can now turn our focus to the lesser problems, like fat kids.

And, because we don't want to make fat kids feel fat, we'll put everyone on a restricted-calorie diet.

Our Professional Deciders have decided that the dietary requirements of an athlete or morning farm-worker are exactly the same as a sedentary overweight kid who needs fewer calories.

Some Kansas students and at least one political leader say new school lunch guidelines aimed at limiting calories and encouraging good nutrition are having an unintended consequence:

Hungry kids.

But that's not an unintended consequence. It's an intended one. A fair percentage of kids are overweight and need to diet (though restricted-calorie diets aren't the way to go). But the government, being of a One Size Fits All mindset, mandates the restricted-calorie diet for people who plainly do not need to diet (active students, athletes) and wonders why so many are complaining.

Even as far as addressing the overweight kids -- the intended consequence is hunger. Why do they imagine restricted-calorie diets are so unpopular?

It's the hunger, stupid.


The new guidelines — the first major overhaul of school meals in 15 years — also require cafeterias to serve less fat and sodium and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.


The lunch included one cheese-stuffed bread stick, a small dollop of marinara sauce, three apple slices and some raw spinach. Kirkham supplemented the lunch with items from a salad bar, including cubes of ham, bacon bits and dressing, which were available only to teachers.

“I asked why the sauce had no meat and I was informed that due to the breadsticks containing cheese, the meat would put us over the guidelines for protein,” Kirkham wrote.

“Now think of a high school boy who works out at least three hours a day, not including farm work. … I’m furious. The ‘cheese’ inside the breadstick is approximately three bites. This is ridiculous.”

This being McClatchy, though, they go on to talk up how many people like being hungry. If I could offer my own spin -- it gives students a sense of focus (on survival functions).

The USDA now recommends packing "healthy snacks" for kids. So what is the point here? They enact a restricted-calorie diet for all students, 75% of whom don't need it, and then suggest that parents send along more calories if they think their kids need it?

Then what is the point of denying hungry kids an extra portion? The system is set up for full compliance (no exceptions!) in order to make sure the fat kids aren't cheating. But this One Size Fits All approach doesn't work for everyone, so they tell people "Eat more if you need to."

So, if there's an element of students (and their parents) making individually-tailored diet decisions here, why impose the blanket calorie-restricted diet on everyone?

There's an easy way out of this, of course. They could just permit extra portions to any athletes or anyone whose parents sign a form stating they work in the morning and need extra calories.

This is obvious, of course. But they don't do it because One Size Fits All. It's a religious mantra. Can't treat different students differently, you know. Even when the students have different circumstances and different caloric needs.

If they're confessing their restricted-calorie state-imposed universal menu isn't universal -- if they're confessing that there is a strong element of personal/parental responsibility for diet decisions here -- then... why are they doing this?

A viral video, apparently written by a teacher and performed by a 16 year old football athlete, is parodying the program:

Political take: My own observation is this-- people get especially animated about things at the center of the human experience. Chiefly I mean sex, God, and food/eating habits.

Michelle Obama is playing with fire.

digg this
posted by Ace at 11:42 AM

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