Many schools have junk-food readily available to the children who attend the school. Vending machines located in lunch rooms and hallways contribute to this, and unhealthy foods are often available as options in lunch lines as well. However, recently parents and health officials have begun trying to get unhealthy foods and snacks out of educational institutions due to research showing the adverse effects of these types of products on obesity levels in children.
This isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds, however. Schools often rely on vending machines and contracts with these companies to raise money for athletics and other after-school activities. Removing these as options makes it harder for them to offer all of the activities students are used to. If vending machines containing junk-food are removed, students may find themselves hungry if they stay late for activities without any way to purchase something to satisfy that hunger. If these vending machines are replaced with those containing healthier products it can help with this problem, but some foods considered healthy, such as 100 percent fruit juice, can have just as many or more calories as foods that are considered junk.
Studies have shown that the increase in obesity risk associated with the availability of junk-food is mainly found in those who are predisposed to obesity. Having junk-food in schools may not increase the risk of normal-weight students becoming obese. However, healthier options help students develop better eating habits and help them meet their recommended intake of vitamins and minerals and lower their intake of unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats.
Many children consume school lunches, which often include desserts and unhealthy options like hot dogs, pizza, tater tots, french fries and onion rings. Some children rely on the food served at school for two meals per day, so this food needs to have as much nutritional value as possible. However, much of the food sold in schools is not particularly healthy. Many foods are fried or very processed, and fruits and vegetables make up only a very small portion of the food offered. For the best results in minimizing obesity, school lunches need to be healthier as well. Eliminating vending machines that sell junk-food won't have as much of an impact if students can get cookies, candy and chips from the a la carte counters in the cafeteria during lunch time.