Editorial: What’s on your plate?

For years, parents have generally had two options when it comes to lunch for their school-going children: pack it every morning day in and day out, or let junior eat whatever the federal government deemed adequate to provide nourishment.

Some schools got it right, but quite often meals were either unpalatable messes of Grade F frozen mash or something so greasy and unhealthy the kids were bound to love it.

Parents with the brown bag blues might want to reassess school lunch this year, because this season a new set of federal school meal guidelines go into effect.

The new regulations change the codes from 15 years ago, and amazingly look a lot like something a common sense-minded person might come up with. They establish limits on sodium and trans fats and require schools to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables. Some schools will be cutting in half the number of chicken nuggets in a meal, for example, and replacing those calories with fresh fruits (canned stuff is either limited or banned). We’re lovin’ it ™.

These new rules could hardly be more needed. It is undeniable at this point obesity is a major threat to this nation, with two out of every three Americans either overweight or obese. Today, the average American adult male weighs 195 lbs, an increase of about 25 lbs compared to 1960. Heart disease, which is often brought about by unhealthy lifestyle, has surpassed cancer as the No. 1 cause of death for people in this country.

It turns out our kids take after us. In 2008, 20 percent of children ages 6 to 11 were considered obese, double the percentage from two decades ago. A full third of adolescents are either overweight or obese. For the first time in our history, it is looking less likely our children will live longer than we do. Many leading health experts, including the surgeon general, have called childhood obesity an epidemic — a decade ago.

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