Ansel loves to help others through what he has experienced. He believes every individual must pay it forward at some point in life.
Even though people realize junk food is not a healthy option they do not stop themselves from consuming a variety of greasy fast foods. Worse, a number of parents do not mind their children having junk food in schools. In some parts of the world some parents actually pack junk food or fast food in their children’s lunchbox to have as a meal or snack in school. We have to admit junk food, processed food and fast foods have become an essential part of our lives.
Greasy fast foods made in a jiffy may not be healthy, however there’s no denying different type of fast food or junk food is extremely tasty. Every bite of junk food is an explosion of delicious flavors. From an evolutionary perspective, cravings result from being hardwired to junk food as a survival mechanism. That’s the reason chemicals and neurotransmitters released in our body induce us to eat more than we normally do every time we smell, see or eat junk food.
Considering how busy we get with our lives in this age of technology, snacking on fast food and junk food that is made quickly seem a viable option for many. Snacking on the move has become a way of life for people in a hurry. While junk food is excessively popular globally, there is growing concern about junk food being consumed by youngsters, and whether these foods should be banned in schools. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 implemented requires United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to maintain healthy nutrition standards for foods sold in schools.
Programs and Guidelines implemented about Health and Nutrition in Schools
Since 2014, The USDAs Smart Snacks Program that focuses on food sold in schools has come into effect. The program aims to give children healthier snack options and healthier snack choices. The Smart Snacks in School program also regulates different types of food and snacks sold at the school canteen, food store, or any another venue in the school where children have access to food and snacks. The program brings science based nutrition guidelines to schools keeping in view practical and logical solutions that promote healthy eating habits on campus. Some of the highlighting features include guidelines in regard with the type of food that should be encouraged and promoted, and food that should be avoided. The program also has guidelines on portion sizes that make a healthy snack/meal and permissible caffeine content suitable for kids. Furthermore, the program also offers tech support and training for different aspects of the program.
While measures are being taken to implement healthy snacking and nutrition for school children the fact remains that different types of unhealthy junk food or fast food are extremely popular in schools. What’s rather concerning is the fact that many schools in the US and other countries have vending machines that sell junk food in schools. The question often asked is should the sale of junk food be banned in schools or allowed in schools. The school of thought in regard with this question differs. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with junk food in schools. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Find out in the lines below.
Junk Food Should Be Allowed in Schools—Pros
Food Habits of Children
Every child is different and has his/her own likes and dislikes in regard with food choices. It is a satisfying feeling for parents to know their child eats something in school rather than staying hungry, even if it means junk food. Majority of children in schools are known to eat well when they snack on greasy burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs. Kids cannot be pressurized to eat what they do not like. Research reveals children do not like eating nutrition meals and are likely to skip their meal or waste their food. If a child does not eat in school, he or she is likely to have depleted energy levels and prone to fall sick often. If your child loves junk food, let him/her have a little bit of it in school. Junk food when consumed in moderation is not a bad thing.
Easy to Carry Snack in the Lunch Bag
While school canteens and food stores serve meals and snacks to school students, a number of parents pack a lunchbox of snacks made at home for their children. Sometimes, parents are busy or maybe away on work tours. In times like these children love to carry burgers or sandwiches from fast food restaurants in their lunch bag. Junk food is an easy, tasty and convenient option for children who have busy parents.
Vending Machines are Profitable for Schools
Installing vending machines that offer food is a profitable and viable option for schools. It is easy and convenient for children in schools to buy junk food at subsidized rates at a vending machine. A sizable amount of profit is made serving food from vending machines in schools. This profit can be used by schools to improve and better facilities for children in schools.
Healthy ingredients can eliminate the Junk in Junk Food
Junk food is often taken to the whipping post often because of its unhealthy oily and greasy content. Sometimes certain ingredients are added to processed food to increase the shelf life of the product. Schools can ensure that fast food or junk food is made fresh with healthy ingredients. Also, using the right oil and the optimal temperature for frying different types of snacks ensures less penetration of oil in deep fried snacks and foods. Not many children like to see vegetables on their plate at school. However, children love to eat mixed vegetables when they are made into a patty and put between burger buns. There are innovative ways to make food healthy. If the choice of ingredients is healthy, the junk in junk food can be eliminated.
Eating Food or Snacks should be a Freedom of Choice for Kids in Schools
Strict rules and policies in regard with junk food is not a solution. It’s not right to limit the freedom of choice of school students in terms of food or snacks. Research and findings reveal, schools that implement the ‘no junk food policy’ have a high number of kids that do not eat their meals either because they do not like the healthy meals served in the cafeteria or canteen or because of money issues. Logically and ideally the food option to children should be many and not less. Restrictions on junk food in school compel children to have food or snacks they do not like or stay hungry. Kids feel uneasy in an environment when foods they want to eat are not available. Eating food they like should be a freedom of choice for children in school.
Junk Food Should Be Banned in Schools—Cons
Regular Consumption of Junk Food Leads to Obesity
Junk food relates to foods or snacks with a high level of salts, fats, calories and sugar and offer limited nutritional value. Consumption of unhealthy foods on a regular basis leads to obesity. The amounts of fats and sugar in junk food and fast food are alarmingly high. Children are at a risk of gaining weight and becoming obese if they consume foods high in sugar, carbs, and salts. Junk food does not possess dietary fiber and other vital nutrients that play a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy body. As a result, consuming junk food results in weight gain at a rapid pace and increases the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes and different forms of arthritis. Obese children that consume large amounts of junk food regularly are at high risk of suffering a heart attack in early adulthood.
Children Get Habituated to Unhealthy Eating
When children get habituated to eating junk food it becomes extremely difficult for them to get accustomed to eating healthy foods. Children that eat junk food everyday find it difficult to have a healthy meal that consists of lean meats, salads, leafy greens and other vegetables. Junk food has a synthetic taste that is very addictive. Children that eat junk food regularly get habituated to a certain amount of spice in junk food and find it difficult to adjust to balanced meals with nutritional value.
Foods such as burgers, fries, salted snacks, fried food, pizzas and candies along with carbonated drinks/sodas gets children addicted to a certain taste. Children eating these foods everyday get habituated to a cycle of unhealthy food habits. 7 out of 10 children carry their unhealthy eating habit of junk food and fast food into adulthood. Habituated tendencies of eating junk food can turn into obsession and addiction into adulthood where individuals cannot eat any other food sources except junk food. Children that get into a habit of eating junk food constantly get hardwired to eating foods with high calories, sugar, and salt as they grow older. Eating junk food becomes a survival mechanism for many and in the long run leads to a number of health issues.
Risk of Damage to Heart and Liver
Children that continue their repeated junk food eating habit through adulthood are high risk candidates for liver damage and heart attacks. Junk food and fast food have exceedingly high levels of sodium and fat that contributes in a big way towards raised blood cholesterol levels and buildup of arterial plaque. This in turn can bring about drastic changes in the circulatory system thereby fluctuating blood pressure levels and increasing the risk of suffering a stroke. Junk food and fast food is a is a potent source of trans fatty acids that lead to fat deposits in the liver and pose a threat to a set of varied liver problems.
High Risk of Acquiring Diabetes in Adulthood
Children that consume junk food regularly are at high risk of developing diabetes in adulthood. Different types of junk food prevent proper absorption of healthy nutrients and minerals, thereby affecting metabolism function and resulting in a weakened immune system. When the metabolism rate is altered drastically, a number of health problems crop up. A wide variety of deep fried foods when consumed often can lead to insulin resistance and over a period of time lead to Type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia. Addiction to junk foods and fast foods can also affect hormonal activity and lead to hormonal imbalance. Furthermore, excessive consumption of greasy foods lead to health problems associated with kidney, liver, weakened immunity, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Regular Consumption Causes Gastric Problems
Different types of gastrointestinal problems are associated with excessive consumption of junk food. Flatulence is a common problem among children and adults who eat junk foods and fast food on a daily basis. Constipation is also a problem among children who eat excessive junk food. It’s a known fact that junk foods and processed foods offer little in terms of dietary fiber which constitutes healthy and natural bowel movement. The lack of sufficient fiber in the body can cause different gastric problems associated with gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, bloating, and flatulence. Furthermore, kids that consume fast foods that contain spicy sauces, pastes and pickles, are at risk of suffering from digestive disorders such as acid reflux and gerd.
The arguments put forth in the aforementioned lines are based in favor of allowing junk food in school, and in favor of a ban on junk food in schools. This article aims to bring about an impact on consumption choices keeping in mind pros and cons associated with junk food. Whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa depend entirely on perspective. Draw your own conclusions based on what you feel is right and wrong. Are you in favor of junk food in schools or against it? If you feel strongly about this issue and want to voice your opinion, feel free to do so in the comments section.
Let your opinion be an honest account of what you truly feel about junk food in school. Your opinion is valuable and will in many ways help evaluate the system, administration and guidelines associated with food served in schools. Children in school are not aware about balancing their food habits the right way, and hopefully will be able to help themselves with choices of food through this article. The intention of the argument/debate is to bring about awareness in regard with advantages and disadvantages of junk food for children in schools.
© 2019 Ansel Pereira
Lorna Lamon on August 20, 2019:
This is an interesting article and even though I believe that 'everything in moderation' is the best way to go, I cannot see that eating junk food in school is a good idea. These foods are full of sugar and other additives which make them addictive. There is an obesity epidemic in children in the UK and surely a healthy diet in schools would be a good place to ensure a healthier future for these children.