17 March 2010

University of Michigan study finds children who eat school lunches more likely to be overweight

A study conducted by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center yielded results that are probably not a surprise to anyone who has researched school lunch issues, children who eat school fare are more likely to be overweight or obese and also have high levels of bad cholesterol.

A team of researchers utilized data collected from questionnaires completed by 1,297 sixth-graders over a three year period. They found that 38.8% of children who ate school lunches were overweight or obese versus 24.4% of children who brought their lunch from home.

Additionally, the results show that children who indulge in school meals were “more than twice as likely to consume fatty meats (25.8 percent vs. 11.4 percent) and sugary drinks (36 percent vs. 14.5 percent), while also eating fewer fruits and vegetables (16.3 percent vs. 91.2 percent).”

The same children were also found to have higher levels of low-density lipid cholesterol—bad cholesterol—than their classmates who consumed food prepared at home.

Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System said, “This study confirms the current and escalating national concern with children’s health, and underscores the need to educate children about how to make healthy eating and lifestyle choices early on.”

A report released last year by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation revealed that the nearly one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

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