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New guidelines don't go far enough

Sunday, January 29, 2012

To the Editor:

School lunches may soon look different -- but not different enough to stem the tide of childhood obesity.

The United States Department of Agriculture just issued new guidelines for school lunches, but as a dietitian, I think it's unfortunate that burgers, pizza and other unhealthy foods will likely still be front and center.

The new guidelines do not require schools to offer meatless entrees or nondairy beverage options to all students.

Meat, milk and cheese are packed with calories and saturated fat, and they play a huge role in the obesity epidemic.

The new guidelines offer low-fat and nonfat milk, but these products are still high in sugar and cholesterol.

And a cup of 1 percent, unflavored low-fat milk has about the same amount of calories as a cup of sugary soda.

It is estimated that students get half to one-third of their calories at school.

We need to make sure schools provide foods that set our future generations up for lifelong good eating habits -- and lifelong good health.

Sincerely,

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.,

Director of Nutrition Education,

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,

Washington, D.C.