Junk Food Is Being Removed from Schools

The wheels of legislation turn slowly. One need only look at the recent time lapse between when Proposition 8 was first voted on (November 5th, 2008) and when it was finally struck down by the Supreme Court (June 26th, 2013) for an example. (On top of which, the battle is still not really over, with more objections and legal filings underway.) Laws and policies, and changes in the way our nation does things is not an overnight process. Once legislation is passed, it doesn't immediately become the Law of the Land. Instead, it lurks around corners like obsessive old flames, waiting to poke their heads out when you least expect.

Like this bit of news: Back in December 2010, Congress passed a child nutrition bill that, among other things, attempted to improve the quality of food being offered in schools. And now, after more than two years, the Agriculture Department finally announced that the nation's 100,000 schools will be forced to follow strict nutritional standards. In other words, to battle the childhood obesity epidemic, the nation's taking the fight to the front lines by attacking the source. Sorry, kids. Time to say goodbye to junk food.

Among the items that will be banned (unless some enterprising youngster decides to make a few extra bucks on the side with black market sales): Candy bars, high-calorie sports drinks, cookies, cakes, potato chips, and anything else that's a bit too high on the sugar, salt, calorie, and fat spectrum. A completely logical piece of legislation like so means everybody has to be on board, right? Wrong.

As you'd expect with anything in our current political climate, there's opposition. In this case, the battle lines are once again clearly drawn between Democrats and Republicans. (Or, perhaps more accurately, those who like President Obama and those who do not.) The red-staters are taking a "is this all really necessary?" approach to the debate:

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., said the "stringent rules are creating serious headaches for schools and students."

To which the most appropriate retort is: Boo-hoo.

But that's not to say that there aren't possible negative aspects hidden in this ban on school junk food. For instance, the new rules don't simply remove the food entirely from vending machines, leaving them shuttered and taken over by cobwebs. The new legislation simply replaces the old high-calorie, high-fat food with low-calorie, low-fat alternative. Unfortunately, this means offering kids a whole lot of food with the terrible "diet" word in their names. So long Coca-Cola, hello Diet Coke. Adios Gatorade, hola G-2, the low-calorie alternative sweetened with sucralose. So while kids won't be getting fat by ingesting high fructose corn syrup-sweetened items, they will be ingesting items laden with chemical sweeteners.

I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade. The move to get rid of junk food from schools is a good one that will, most definitely provide a positive outcome. I'm just concerned we may simply be replacing the current problem with a new one.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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