A new study may make parents think twice before handing their children fast food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five teens across the nation has cholesterol levels that put them at risk for heart disease. The rate more than doubled for those teens who were obese. As a dietitian, I see this as an urgent call to get serious about childhood obesity.
The best way to fight this growing epidemic is to help children develop healthy eating habits early on. The government could cut down on obesity rates—and health spending—by making low-fat, nutrient-rich foods more available in school lunches. Studies show that vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains—all 100 percent cholesterol-free—can help lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
We must join the American Public Health Association and the American Medical Association in calling for vegetarian school meal options when the Child Nutrition Act comes up for reauthorization this year. Adding low-fat vegetarian foods in schools would pay off in a big way when our nation's youth have lower rates of obesity and need less medical care.
Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.
Physicians Committee for Responsible