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Title: You Are What You Eat: How School Lunch Policies Can Promote Healthier Eating and Lower Childhood Obesity
Authors: Hirshberg, Isabel
Advisors: Coven, Martha
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: The prevelence of childhood obesity in the United States has consistently increased over the past three decades. $14 billion of medical costs are attributed to related health complications. Simultaneously, each school day 31 million children are served lunches with provisions from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). These lunches cost the federal budget $22 million daily and $13.6 billion annually. This paper compiles data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and observations from school site visits to address the shortcomings of the NSLP since students’ weight is not yet at a level considered healthy. Childhood obesity has not declined and nearly 30% of the food served by assistance programs in schools goes to waste. There is an opportunity for schools to reduce obesity if children are educated and encouraged to consume nutritious foods. Previous research on the subject has found effective interventions to increase student consumption of healthier foods, but on a small localized scale. The policy recommendations proposed in this paper include: changes in federal policy; best practices implemented at the district level and by individual schools; and federal financial incentives to promote these best practices. The goal of this recommendation is twofold: to equip schools with the means to cook and serve healthy meals for students, and make these meals appealing enough for students to choose them and consume quality calories to impact their diet and future health.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2019

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