Editorial: Choosing health over dollars

Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:07 AM

Risk and reward clearly have our nation’s children in the crosshairs of good health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week released details from a government survey of more than 800 U.S. school districts. The report found more schools opting to keep children healthy against the lure of the almighty dollar. That’s good news.

For years, soda companies have led the charge into our nation’s schools. Governments of all levels struggle to find enough money for the children. They regularly weigh options in new revenue streams.

Once upon a time, sodas and vending machines were only available in the teachers’ lounges. Chewing gum and talking in class used to be the biggest problems for those teachers, too.

Times change, and so do the children. They’re larger and less healthy by sizable numbers in recent generations. That’s not entirely the fault of soda companies.

The report indicates there’s a positive turn, with 44 percent of school districts banning junk food from vending machines. That’s up 30 percent from 2006 for the report done every six years.

And though the study doesn’t endorse it as a correlating factor, the number of overweight and obese children is steady at 17 percent. The experts believe diet and exercise at home is every bit as important as what children eat.

Soda companies are getting fewer opportunities to advertise on school grounds through posters, scoreboard placards or other ways, according to the report. And of those getting receipts, those getting a portion of sales dropped from 82 percent to 69 percent.

The impact of incentives programs is also dropping, with only 34 percent getting awards or donations. In 2006, it was 52 percent.

What the school district does is very important. But we think the most telling item from the report is what happens at home. Just as with good learning habits and a disciplined lifestyle, healthy eating habits start in the home, too.

If parents are not teaching their children what to eat and why, they have no one to blame but themselves when the medical expenses pile up later, not to mention the pounds.