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Development of Diseases From Eating Unhealthy School Lunches

written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 1/24/2011

The risk of diseases from eating unhealthy school lunches is very real, so it is important to understand what the causes are in order to avoid them.

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    Unhealthy School Lunches

    The development of diseases from eating unhealthy school lunches is a serious topic that every parent should be aware of. While we would like to think that our children are offered healthy food options while at school, the truth is that they in many cases, they are not. The milk offered in many schools throughout the country is filled with sugar, the meals are filled with fat, and the lack of fruits and vegetables is painful. So what kinds of diseases are children faced with when eating your typical school lunch?

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    Diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes is a serious problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of people under the age of 20, and the statistics are even higher for adults, according to the Center for Disease Control. Diabetes sets in when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. This is either because the pancreas cannot create enough insulin for the body to use, or the body cannot properly use the insulin that has been created.

    Either way, type 2 diabetes requires medication and consistent monitoring by a qualified professional. It can lead to serious ailments such as blindness or kidney failure, and because it is associated with obesity, heart disease and even early death are serious risk factors. Eating a diet high in saturated fats and sugars are known to contribute to the onset of diabetes. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are known to help prevent it.

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    Obesity

    The CDC says that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Almost all foods served at school lunches contribute to the risk of obesity as they are high calorie, high fat options. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even some cancers are all serious complications of obesity that can start to develop at a very young age. Obesity also contributes to other problems such as low self esteem, sleep apnea, and joint problems.

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    What Can Be Done?

    One of the easiest ways to avoid the disease from eating unhealthy school lunches is to pack a healthful, tasty lunch for your child. However this is not always a realistic solution, or one that will help the overall problem. You can write to or visit your local schools to ask for healthier options, and you can start petitions for other parents to sign.

    In December of 2010, Congress passed a bill called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kid’s Act. This act would hold schools accountable for serving high quality, healthy meals to school children. The standards set forth in the bill would limit saturated fats, sodium, and calories while expanding the fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains offered in lunch programs. You can impact the way your school implements this bill by requesting the foods you would like to see available.

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    Resources

    Kidshealth "Type 2 Diabetes" Retreieved January 18, 2011

    CDC "Childhood Obesity" Restreived January 18, 2011