Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack proposed Thursday to require public schools to overhaul the kinds of meals they serve in 2012 in order to battle the nation's childhood obesity problem. The most drastic changes wouldn't go into effect for 15 years.
The rules would "gradually reduce sodium, limit starchy vegetables, ban most trans fats, require fat-free or lowfat milk, increase whole grains, add more fruits and vegetables, and, for the first time, limit the number of calories children consume daily," the Washington Post reports.
The proposed new lunch calorie limits are 550 to 650 calories for a younger child and 750 to 850 calories for a high school student. This sample menu (PDF) shows how traditional school lunches items such as pizza sticks and hot dogs would be replaced by a chef's salad or baked fish nuggets.
Vilsack pointed out that nearly a third of the nation's kids are obese or overweight, costing projected billions in health care .
New school nutrition rules were last set fin 1995, when experts focused on limiting fat content.
Poorer children are offered free or reduced lunches in public school through a 1946 federal law.
(South Carolina eighth-graders at lunch: AP)
- starchy vegetables
- whole grains
- Department of Agriculture Secretary
- trans fats
- childhood obesity problem
- Tater Tots
- Tom Vilsack