Childhood obesity is a hot topic in this country (read my latest piece on the topic here). Everyone is searching for the answer to the question: how do we make our kids healthier.
Not surprisingly, many in Washington are turning to the age-old solution to this nation’s problems: Just thrown more money at it. But the Washington Times points out just why this tired old solution won’t work on this growing problem.
The House Education and Labor Committee today will consider legislation extending Uncle Sam’s reach into what our children eat. Although the $19.2 billion federal child nutrition program already hands out free or subsidized breakfast, lunch and snacks to 32 million kids, the bill under review would open up the freebies to millions more. The Obama administration has pledged another $10 billion in spending over 10 years.
The problem for congressional Democrats is that they have been peddling contradictory scare stories. On the one hand, we are to imagine that the only thing between 32 million youths and starvation is a government-funded meal. On the other, we are to suppose these same kids are so fat that the “obesity crisis” requires an immediate hike in the taxes levied on soda pop and bureaucratically disfavored food items. It’s hardly likely that many kids on this gravy train are starving.
As the Times points out, the school lunch program itself has become bloated over the years. It started out as a tiny supplemental feeding program to help underprivileged kids get a warm meal but has morphed into a massive federal feeding program that goes far beyond needy children to children whose parents are too busy to pack a lunch or who prefer pizza and chicken fingers to the hummus and sprouts sandwich packed by their mother. To too-large an extent, government, not parents, has become responsible for what the next generation ingests.
That’s why increasing the budget for the school lunch program sort of misses the point. Federally provided school lunches are one of the many causes of childhood obesity. Yet Congress’ solution appears to be to throw more money into government programs.
If we really want thinner kids, we need to get rid of the source of the calories, and that process begins with getting parents more involved with what kids’ eat.