Western Pa. school officials want help in obesity battle
School officials and dietitians say changes to school lunch requirements are only a small part of taking on childhood obesity.
Ann Condon-Meyers, a registered dietitian with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, said the new rules are a starting point.
“I respect (First Lady) Michelle Obama for starting the dialogue,” Condon-Meyers said.
“She has made it her mandate to get us talking about it. We have to start somewhere.”
Youngsters who are overweight and obese are at risk for health problems, she said. Childhood obesity affects 17 percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. — triple the rate in 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Children at a much younger age, as young as 10, are developing Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes and hypertension,” Condon-Meyers said.
Also, Children's Hospital medical professionals are seeing children as young as 12 developing orthopedic problems because their hips and knees are supporting too much weight, Condon-Meyers said.
She said, though, that healthy eating patterns have to start at home and can be reinforced at school.
“We can't completely change children's eating habits if it's not what their parents eat,” Condon-Meyers said.
Maryann Lazzaro, food supervisor with the Plum School District, said school lunches account for 16 percent of meals for students who eat one school lunch a day through the school year.
“That means 84 percent come from the outside,” Lazzaro said.
“We have been charged with making significant changes when we only feed children 16 percent of their meals. We can't do it alone. We need support at home.”
Plum School Board member Sal Colella also would like to see more classroom education about healthful eating habits.
“It is an educational process,” he said.
Quaker Valley's food services director Jennifer Reiser said that education in the classroom includes allowing the students to make suggestions on foods that would be served in the cafeteria.
Michelle Marker, director of programs and marketing for The Nutrition Group, a food service management company contracted by about 130 school districts in western Pennsylvania, said the company coordinates educational activities including a youth advisory committee.
Students on the committees get to taste-test food and offer feedback about selections in the cafeteria.
“Education is the key,” Marker said.
Sedentary lifestyles also contribute to obesity.
“We can't point the finger at school lunches and ignore what goes on in gym class,” Condon-Meyers said.
“Activity is just as important.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Beaver DA believes girls might have lived had dad responded faster
- Rossi: Johnston must reach Malkin in Moscow
- Steelers are in familiar territory going into training camp in Latrobe
- Ringgold School Board bans book in haste
- Uber, Lyft get tentative PUC permission to operate in Allegheny County
- Man tries to lure teen into white van in Hempfield, police report
- Interest high for Heinz Field soccer match between top Euro teams
- New Penguins coach to meet with Malkin
- Air Algerie flight presumed to have crashed in ‘difficult weather’
- Pirates notebook: Recovering Cole exceeds expectations in simulated game
- Liriano, Snider lift Pirates to a victory over Dodgers at PNC Park