Junk Food in Schools
Chips, skittles, honey bun, soda, Hershey chocolate bar are only a few of the many items that can make any mouth water. Children have unlimited access to these items daily not only through lunches, but vending machines as well. Slang terms for these items commonly used is junk food. Mouthwatering or not junk food has many long-term negative effects. Junk food should not be allowed in schools because it is addicting, it can cause a delay in mental function and physical growth, as well as lead to major medical issues such as obesity.
Department of Education mandates that children in grades 6th through 12th have a minimum of five and a half instructional time based upon a 180-day school cycle. This does not include time at the beginning of school or in between classes. Being that on average a child spends a minimum of five and a half hours, however, an average of 8 at school, it is as well the main location of meal consumption. Healthy People 2020 Dietary Guidelines recommends between four and 6 small meals a day balanced within the five food groups.
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Schools are supplying children with foods and snacks that do not fit within this criteria. Taxes are the main source of funding for most public schools. This funding is not always being significant enough to provide, therefore, schools seek out other profitable means such as vending machines. Vending machines supply items more appealing to children such as candy, soda, and chips. Poor food choices are leading these children to obesity, type two diabetes, and mental health illnesses such as depression (Lee, 2016).
The Centers for Disease Control performed a prevalence of childhood obesity. Percentages were as high as 20.6% among children the ages of 12-19 years of age. As cited by Deborah Lee, 2016 there are three main precipitating causes to obesity: heredity, inactivity, and diet. Diet and exercise are considered modifiable factors, whereas heredity is uncontrolled, such as in endocrine related medical diseases.
Being as children spend two-thirds of their day sitting in the classroom environment with lack of inactivity, and having exposure to junk foods through the use of vending machines is continuously increasing obesity rates (Lee, 2016). Lee also stated that within our growing society now, the growth of working parents have increased to children being unattended after school hours. It is less likely that a working parent enrolls their child in an after school sports than a nonworking parent. Therefore these children are more prone to be immobile in front of the television than exercising the junk food provided within schools.
Macronutrients in the genetic makeup of junk food is the leading factor that makes junk food so addicting. Scientific research has broken down how the body creates cravings. Through different stages such as dynamic contrast, salivary response, rapid food meltdown, and sensory specific response in combination with calorie density, and memories of past eating experiences all lead to cravings. When junk food items are consumed this process is amplified, enhancing cravings for more junk food and satisfaction when consuming junk food verse healthy food (Clear, 2018). Vending machines fulfilled with junk food are just fuel for addiction readily available.
Junk food in schools is causing developmental delay and mental health illnesses in children. Eva Selhub, MD says that eating junk food is like putting low grade fuel in a premium expensive car. Studies have found that diets high in sugars and processed food lead to mood disorders such as depression. This is caused by a neurotransmitter, serotonin that regulates functions such as appetite, moods, pain, and sleep. 95 percent of this specific neurotransmitter is produced within the gastrointestinal tract. The more these specific foods are digested the higher levels of serotonin activates the neural pathways between the gut and the brain (Selhub, 2015).
Obesity can be defeated largely through the modifiable factor of proper dieting. As well as removing junk food as an option during and in the location that children remain for over half their day. Dietary addiction doesn’t have to be unhealthy when junk food is a minimal factor and healthier options are available. Dismissing junk food from schools can also decrease the already high risk that children face of depression. Not allowing junk foods in school can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle for children.