When I was in high school the cafeteria served either pizza, hot dog, or hamburger, every single day, without fail. Those were the days! There was no handwringing or finger pointing. Kids ate what they pleased and somehow, miraculously, everything worked out.
For some reason, the USDA thought it could disrupt the natural order of the universe by compelling kids to eat fruit and vegetables. But just plopping an apple on a tray doesn’t mean it’s going to get eaten. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that kids are dumping their mandated servings of produce directly into the trash.
Even more disturbing is the USDA’s caloric guidelines for subsidized school lunches. The standards are 550-650 calories for K-5, 600-700 calories for grades 6-8, and 750-850 calories for high schoolers. So the senior varsity linebacker who benches 300 is supposed to eat as much as the spindly freshman who hasn’t gotten his first zit? No wonder kids are complaining about being hungry.
After years of coaching CrossFit Kids, I think I know a little bit about how to improve kids’ health. Here’s my two cents. If you can get a kid to love moving, they will eventually become interested in eating well. Kids are smart and they understand that eating well amplifies their physical pursuits. But no normal kid is ever going to see nutrition as an abstraction of calories and macronutrients. Their minds don’t work that way, which is to say they’re smarter than the egg-heads in Washington oinking at the taxpayer trough.