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Is Congress Contributing To Childhood Obesity?

If you are a sentient American, there are two major trends you have likely noticed: First, the increase in our collective inability to confront problems, and second, the increase in our collective girth. These two problems converged on Monday, when Congress scuttled an Obama administration initiative to make school lunches healthier. In the midst of a worsening obesity epidemic, how serious is this setback?

A 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academies) suggests that Congress has missed an opportunity to address a pretty serious problem. Examining the daily food group intake of American schoolchildren, the report found that children’s intake of different food groups was far from ideal. Consumption of dark green and orange vegetables, for example, was “very low,” especially compared to intake of meat and oils. The study cautions that so far, “no definitive studies have been found that provide evidence of how the school meal programs affect children’s weight status.” Still, it’s hard to imagine how resisting efforts to limit consumption of french fries, or counting pizza as a vegetable, is going to do much good.