State Fighting Obesity Starting With ChildrenBy Daniel Cherry | Published 19 Jul 2011 06:24pm |
The State of Mississippi is trying to tackle its obesity epidemic starting with it's youngest citizens. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how administrators hope changes to school nutrition will make the state a healthier place to live.
Mississippi has already adopted some nutrition guidelines more stringent than required by the federal government. School districts are figuring out how to work within those parameters. Becke Bounds is the Child Nutrition Director for Lamar County Schools. She says children are already making menu requests for the first day of the new school year.
"Well I'll tell you, the number one school lunch menu in Lamar County is Cheesy Chicken over Rice, and the kids love it. That's over a whole grain, brown rice, and we make it with low-fat cheese and low-fat cream cheese. So it's a very healthy dish, but it's very rich. Your momma might say it's a kind of stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal."
Over the past few years schools have been replacing fryers with convection ovens and serving reduced fat milk rather than whole. Scott Clements is the Director for Child Nutrition Programs for the Department of Education. He says the diets of Mississippians are deep rooted, but it's not too late to make a difference.
"It is the culture. We have a long history of fried foods, and it's changing the eating habits. Really that's the whole goal of starting with the kids while they're in school. Starting with the youngest people and working our way forward."
Child nutrition officials are hoping to change that culture by introducing new meal standards for children. Armer Moore is the incoming president for the Mississippi School Nutrition Association.
"We ranked the fattest state in the United States, but we have made progress. Such as whole grain, more fresh produce, green, colorful vegetables."
While schools are already introducing fruits and vegetables into nutrition plans, officials say that amount could double in the very near future.
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