Report: School Food Programs Could Trigger Eating Disorders

A new report released this week by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital has suggested that the numerous programs implemented by schools across the country designed to tackle childhood obesity could be going too far — and could potentially cause eating disorders.

The report shows that 30 percent of parents say they see at least one behavior in their children that could be associated with the development of eating disorders, writes CBS Detroit.

David Rosen, a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, said:

"We have to be really careful that we're not putting things out there, particularly to younger kids, that might be misinterpreted, not be given appropriate supervision, and being done in ways that kids can, or some kids, can go off in dangerous directions and have bad outcomes."

Rosen believes it is important that parents talk to their children about what they're being told at the schools and to keep an eye out for worrying behavior.

"Parents need to know what's going on in school. They need to be able to talk with their kids about the information they're getting in schools, be attentive to any changes they're seeing in their kids, particularly if those behaviors seem to persist or seem to be getting worse.

"We think the parents ought to be talking to schools about this kind of education."

The schools must also take responsibility, says Rosen. Officials should pay attention to the outcomes of their programs.

This comes at a time when one out of three American children is overweight or obese. The Obama administration had attempted to strengthen the nutritional standards of school meals by implementing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which aims to improve the quality of meals served to students in the nation's cafeterias.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that many students get up to half of their daily calories at school, and that new rigorous nutritional standards are imperative.

However, critics like Sally Spero, San Diego Unified School District's food planning supervisor, believe that programs like these may have unintended consequences.

Spero said:

"I know this is well-intended. I'm concerned about unintended consequences: That schools would stop serving breakfast because it would be too expensive, or that kids would stop eating lunch because it doesn't taste good."

01 28, 2012
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