Thursday, October 2, 2014

You Are What You Eat: School Lunch vs Packed Lunch

The new school year has already started, which has probably caused you to decide whether your child will buy a school lunch or take a packed lunch. The saying "you are what you eat" comes to mind when trying to decide what will be the best option for your child.

For my family, there wasn't any question about it--my children will take packed lunch to school. My reason for this is because I remember what lunches were like as a kid, and I prefer my children eat a "real" meal at school. However, I know many parents choose to let their children eat a school lunch. In my eyes, there's nothing wrong with this either. To each their own. I know many families can't afford to prepare lunches for their children during these tough times, and low-cost school lunches provide their child with a meal they might not have otherwise.

School Lunch vs Packed Lunch
Here's some information that was presented by the American College of Cardiology at a recent meeting regarding a study involving children who ate school lunches.
  • Were more likely to be overweight or obese (38.2% vs. 24.7%)
  • Were more likely to eat two or more servings of fatty meats like fried chicken or hot dogs daily (6.2% vs. 1.6%)
  • Were more likely to have two or more sugary drinks a day (19% vs. 6.8%)
  • Were less likely to eat at least two servings of fruits a day (32.6% vs. 49.4%)
  • Were less likely to eat at least two servings of vegetables a day (39.9% vs. 50.3%)
  • Had higher levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol
Now, in my opinion, school lunches aren't solely the cause of children being overweight. There are numerous other factors that are responsible for children being overweight, not just the fact they ate a school lunch. The way I see it, it's just another ploy people are throwing around due to the rising "obesity epidemic." No, school lunches may not be the healthiest thing in the world, but children could be eating far worse things for lunch or nothing at all.

I choose to have my children take a packed lunch because I know what they are eating and where it came from. Yes, there are days we are running late and I won't have time to fix their lunches, so the option of a school lunch is great. Plus, some days they see pizza on the menu and will buy their lunch that day.

I think the school lunch vs packed lunch debate really comes down to personal preference and the situation your family is in.

What is your stance on the school lunch vs packed lunch debate?

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