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Are School Lunches Serving Children Well?

If you want your children to stay healthy and fit, researchers suggest that you start by giving them a healthful lunch , because school lunches might be launching kids on a slippery slide toward obesity .

A study of more than 1,000 sixth graders in Michigan found that the children who regularly consumed school lunches were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home. Of the 142 obese children in the study (for whom researchers had dietary information), almost half consumed school lunches regularly, compared with only one-third of the 787 children who were not obese.

Dr. Kim A. Eagle, a senior author of the paper, published in the December issue of American Heart Journal , says, "Most school lunches rely heavily on high-energy, low-nutrient-value food, because it's cheaper." And in some schools where the study was conducted, lunch programs offered special, such as "Tater Tot Day," he adds.

But under a Federal law passed in December, Department of Agriculture guidelines will begin to limit the number of calories served at school meals, as well as require lunch programs to offer varieties of fruits and vegetables, not only corn and potato-based side dishes.

Do you pack lunch for your kids? If not, do you know what they're eating for lunch at school? Let me know here.

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