August 11 2014

How the French Do It

Julie Gunlock

I generally dislike the type of stories that pit one country against another, but this particular article caught my eye. It compares how kids eat at school in France compared to American schools.

The article does focus on the fact that in French schools, much of the food is locally sourced and cooked from raw ingredients in the school's kitchen and that certainly accounts for some of the reason the food tastes better. But I noticed something else from the pictures; The food looks wonderful and clearly, the food contains flavorings--butter, fat, and probably salt--things that are severely limited by our federal government. As you can see in one picture included in the article, kids are even offered camembert--an extremely high-fat (and delicious) cow's milk cheese. Can you imagine the outrage if a kids were served somethign equally fatty (and somewhat more recognizable to kids) in American schools?

The article also explains that French children tend to walk more to school which is in stark contrast to the busing and drop-off system here in the States.  In fact, as IWF visiting fellow Lane Scott wrote last year, according to The National Wildlife Federation, American children only spending four to seven minutes playing outside every day on average. And the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that half of American preschoolers do not go outside at all on a daily basis. 

Perhaps then the solution to childhood obesity isn't limiting how schools feed kids; it's giving them more freedom and parents taking steps to get kids outside more.

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