Sugary sweet sodas and greasy, salty, fried foods may be on their way out in school cafeterias, at least if the Institute for Medicine has its way. We hope it does.
Last week the group recommended new standards for school food and snacks that would sharply limit sugar, calories and fat while encouraging more nutritious eating.
The recommendations were requested by Congress, concerned about the rise in obesity and its inherent maladies among our young people.
According to the Associated Press, food sold in school cafeterias under federally assisted lunch programs already must meet nutritional standards. The institute's recommendations cover items considered competitive with those foods. Examples include snacks in vending machines and other food and drinks sold at school but not under the federal program.
Selling these foods is a money maker in some communities. Janey Thornton, president of the School Nutrition Association, said she expects complaints about losing this source of money if the recommendations are adopted.
"Shame on us if we try to balance the school budget based on the nutritional health of kids," said Thornton, whose organization represents school food service directors.
Shame, indeed. In our society we've determined that children, in the eyes of the law, are not responsible for the choices they make. The same principle should apply to food choices. Given the choice of a chocolate bar or an apple, most kids would probably choose the chocolate.
Children do not know what is best for them. Responsible adults need to intercede and remove the temptation. That would be parents at home and administrators in the schools. Already, because of national testing standards, physical education has been entirely eliminated in many schools. The lack of activity coupled with a poor diet is a recipe for disaster where our kids' health is concerned.