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.

Jennifer Van Hook, lead author of the study, explains:

“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.

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  1. This constant effort to place blame on parents (i.e. mothers) for the obesity epidemic is unbelievable and quite frankly rude. After having to go through the school provided afterschool “snack bag” for something with ingredients I could pronounce for my five year old yesterday (unsuccessfully), talk with his Chinese teacher about the lollipops and candy they reward him with almost daily, and engage in a two hour discussion with his chess teacher/coach about why Starbursts fruits snack are not fruit and are not appropriate for a child I am pissed that adults continue to try to pass off “empirical research” suggesting parents are solely to blame.

    My neighborhood is saturated with snacks and beverages that youth buy on their way to and from school and because schools DON’T allow youth time to eat lunch (15-20 minutes max), feed some lunch at 10:30 in the morning to keep their academic schedule, and then don’t provide them with food every two hours so that they are properly nourished all day kids rightfully substitute with their own snacks that they sneak throughout the busy day you speak of. You are blaming the wrong adults! Try focusing on the money hungry marketing firms and the food science industry that make it nearly impossible for parents to purchase REAL food with ingredients they can pronounce without having to spend 45 minutes in the grocery store for a 10 item list.

    I’m sick of these attempts to isolate parents when there is so little support for those trying to make good choices that are affordable and practical with NO accountability or regulatory support to challenge the corporate speech that targets my child at every turn.

    • @Sheri: You have a choice, that’s all. I understand if you cannot afford most of the food that is best for your child but when does your personal responsibility come in? You want to blame everyone but yourself. In a consumer economy you vote with your dollars.

      I’m tired of blacks all ways blaming the “the man” or some mysterious government plot to destroy the race. If your child is fat, it’s your problem that you need to fix. You’re the one who feeds him/her exclusively. You are the one that allows your child to watch television and a live sedentary lifestyle. Get some responsibility in your life, your not entitled to anything!!!!!!

    • @Sheri:

      I know what you mean…also well meaning family and friends who give snacks to the kids and say that once it does no harm..except that it isn´t once..or by only one family member/friend.

      My brother always got healthy foods, lots of veggies, fruits..but school and school friends introduced him to heaps of didn´t matter what he got at home, I saw that for myself.

      Everyone ate it, if you ate healthy food you were the weird kid and so on.

      Sure there are enough parents who don´t care what their kids eat, or don´t know what is in the food, but the, friends, family, junk food on every corner, is making it hard, even for the parents who put much emphaty on healthy food.


    A child’seating habits and preferences start very young. Like when you start them off with solid foods. What you feed them is critical to their cravings and preferences they exercise when choosing what to eat on the way to and form school as well as at school or anytime away from home. You hold the power but you must exercise it early in their development.

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