A new study confirms parents are critical to keeping kids healthy. The study, conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and published in the January issue of Sociology of Education, used weight data from 20,000 children and found that while the majority of the children in their study attended schools that sold junk food, there was no rise in the percentage of students who were overweight or obese. In fact, despite the increased availability of junk food, the percentage of students who were overweight or obese actually decreased from fifth grade to eighth grade, from 39.1 percent to 35.4 percent.
The researchers were so shocked by what they found that they actually delayed publishing their findings for two years. On researcher explained the delay, saying “we kept looking for a connection that just wasn't there."
So what does this all mean?
Basically, the researchers found that kids don't really have enough time to chow down at school. Rather, they tend to eat high-calorie snacks at home and elsewhere. This conclusion reinforces the idea that parents ultimately have control of their children's eating habits and can and should at a very young age instill healthy eating habits in their children. It also delivers a blow to the food nannies’ greatest target—sodas and snack foods. Foods they have insisted must be removed from schools if we’re going to get kids to eat healthy and lose weight.
Equally important, it throws into doubt the role of schools entirely in the obesity debate. Making school lunches “healthier” is a priority for the Obama administration. This new study raises the question: what’s the point?