After study upon study and article after article pointing the finger at schools for making our kids fat with their burger and fries lunches and soda machines, but now a new study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University is saying we’ve had it wrong all along. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University studied the body mass indexes of fifth through eighth graders who attended both schools that sold junk food and those that did not. They also evaluated what happened when kids moved from schools that didn’t sell junk to schools that did and what they found was that there is no correlation between being in a school where junk food was sold and obesity.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we should add a buy one get one free junk food day to the lunch menu. The researchers say that it’s not that junk food isn’t bad for kids, and it’s not that they’re not eating it. It’s just that they’re not really eating it much at school. Kids usually establish food preferences before they even enter school and have control over their meal choices, so if all they have eaten at home is junk, then junk is all they will want for lunch.
“Schools only represent a small portion of children’s food environment. … They can get food at home, they can get food in their neighborhoods, and they can go across the street from the school to buy food. Additionally, kids are actually very busy at school… There really isn’t a lot of opportunity for children to eat while they’re in school, or at least eat endlessly, compared to when they’re at home. As a result, whether or not junk food is available to them at school may not have much bearing on how much junk food they eat.”
In short, getting our kids on the path to healthy eating begins at home. Instead of pointing fingers at schools, we need to take the lead at home and set the example for our children by making a healthy lifestyle a family affair.