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HEALTHY AT SCHOOL

Banning choices will not solve obesity problem

July 20, 2011

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RE “STATE bans unhealthy food sales in schools’’ (Metro, July 14): While I commend Massachusetts schools for evaluating their menus and snack options, banning certain foods will not solve the problem of obesity in our youth. Education will. We need to teach children to practice balance and portion control. Providing nutrition information to students without teaching them what it means will accomplish little.

As a dietitian, I’ve been horrified hearing stories of what students eat in school. Lunch options, such as tortillas with melted cheese, or snacks such as white-flour pancakes, lack essential nutrients.

Many children eat breakfast, lunch, and two snacks at school each day; this accounts for more than 75 percent of the food they eat all day long.

I hope the Public Health Council considers implementing the US Department of Agriculture’s latest food model, “My Plate.’’ While treats such as soda or chips are certainly OK on occasion, offering more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables at meal times is a critical step for improving school lunches.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Until you fix the big problem, the little things around it won’t matter all that much.

Sophia Kamveris
Arlington

The writer is a consultant to food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola.