However, it seems that the regulation imposed by the authorities has had a significant impact on these meals, because they are much healthier than they used to be, according to a statement released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on August 27.
It seems that the food served in school cafeterias is nowadays much lower in sodium and there are more healthier options for children to chose from, such as fruit and vegetables or whole grains.
The researchers led by Caitlin Merlo, from the CDC analyzed the data provided by various surveys that were carried out in schools in 2000, 2006 and 2014 in order to check whether the policies issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture were successful.
“Almost all schools offered whole grain foods each day for breakfast and lunch, and most offered two or more vegetables and two or more fruits each day for lunch.,” the researchers said.
According to them, the standards now require schools to serve more whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Moreover, they need to reduce the sodium content over the next decade.
The numbers revealed that more than three quarters of the schools surveyed offered at least two types of vegetables and at least two types of fruit.
Nevertheless, self-serve salad bars were only found in one out of three schools and less than 50 percent of them offered low-sodium vegetables instead of canned ones, which are usually salty.
The findings represent an important step forward, because most children in the United States eat very unhealthy food. Thus, very few of them meet the recommendations to eat enough whole grains, fruit and vegetables. “This can put them at risk for weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases,” said the researchers.
In addition to that, it was estimated that most of them (90 percent) consume more sodium than it is recommended by health experts.
Given the high obesity rates among American children, these measures were absolutely necessary. It still remains to be seen what impact they actually have on children, given that most of them might not chose the healthier option for lunch.
Other studies point out that these children prefer to throw away their vegetables and fruit instead of eating them, which makes it more difficult to determine how many of them have actually improved their diet thanks to school cafeterias.
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