“Type 2 diabetes is rampant in children now” according to Dr. Mark Hyman, the author of “The Blood Sugar Solution”. With more and more high calorie food available and less physical exercise children have every day, the morbidity of type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly. In Figure 1, it shows the number of new cases of children who is diagnosed diabetes from 1980 to 2010 around the world, which almost keeps increasing every year. Although some parents and families start to realize the seriousness of this situation, few effective measures have been taken because new cases of children type 2 diabetes still increasing. Children Type 2 Diabetes is no longer just a medical issue. Just like Dr. Hyman has mentioned “This is really a social problem. We need a social cure. We’re not going to solve this in the doctor’s office. We have to change things like access to sodas and school access to good foods”. Therefore, the National School Lunch Program(NSLP) should be the best policy that can remit and solve the increased number of children type 2 diabetes because it reduces high calorie food intake, it provides reduce price or even free for low income families and corresponding educations to parents and children.
Consuming too much high calorie food such as fast food and soda is the main reason that children has a high risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Nowadays, fast food restaurant is widespread with a low price. Besides, a survey did by Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy shows that kids aged between 6 to 11 years of age will see about 643 advertisements in total from the main fast food companies in the US, which means that on average, these kids will see 2 fast food advertisements every day. What is more, a lack of education about the childhood type 2 diabetes is another reason that there is an increasing number of children getting type 2 diabetes. Parents and children are lack of the knowledge about type 2 diabetes. Melanie D. Hingle and Tami Turner stated in their joint research that the majority of families surveyed did not know what type 2 diabetes is and what factors contributes to this disease. For example, most people did not know that eating too much high calorie food will increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. All of these factors make children type 2 diabetes not only a medical problem, but also a social problem. As Dr. Mark Hyman has said in the CBS news, “we need to do things like have soda taxes, change food marketing practices to kids because this is not a problem solved in the doctor’s office.” Therefore, society should pay attention to the root of this problem: eating too much high calorie food rather than how to cure the children diabetics in hospital. The National School Lunch Program should be the most effective policy to be taken to solve this problem because it aims at the main causes of children type 2 diabetes.
The National School Lunch Program is “a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day” (United State Department of Agriculture).
The National School Lunch Program is effective because it focuses on the root of this problem. Eating too much high calorie food plays the significant role in children type 2 diabetes, and this program can reduce high calorie food intake by providing a much healthier meal in school. According to USDA’s research, schools with weak meal standard have a higher rate of type 2 diabetics than schools with strong mean standard (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). NSLP is also proved to be effective in Colorado which has a similar program. “Colorado traditionally has ranked as one of the healthiest states in the nation, a claim that reinforces a culture of activity, community and well-being” (Trujillo). The reason why Colorado is ahead of other states is owe to the Smart Meal Program. This program requires restaurant to provide a healthy meal option in the menus, which has the same requirement with the National School Lunch Program, to make it easier for consumers to choose. As a result of Smart Meal Program, people’s physical quality has improved. What is more, the meal provided by this program is provided by professional children nutritionist and it will varies depend on different districts and climatic factors. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition also show that “the risk factors for children chronic diseases, like hypertension and type 2 diabetes, are increasingly seen in younger ages, often a result of unhealthy eating habits”.
The National School Lunch Program is effective also because it has reduced price meal for low-income families and free meal for poverty level families. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “a person with type 2 diabetes may spend an average of nearly $85,500 to treat the disease and its complications over his or her lifetime”, while the average income for a person is only $51,939 in 2014 in the US. Therefore, many families are incapable of meeting the prohibitive cost required to cure type 2 diabetes, which is most significant for families from a lower socio-economic background. However, the NSLP offer reduced price mean or even free meal for families that cannot afford, which makes these families easier to approach to healthier meals. According to the NSLP Fact Sheet and Figure 4, until 2012 “more than 31.6 million children each day got their reduced price or free lunch through the National School Lunch Program.” With the reduced price or free meal, children who are type 2 diabetics or have an early sign of diabetes can spend more money on their treatment while these children can still have a healthy meal every day to reduce the adverse impact of high calorie food on their bodies.
The National School Lunch Program is feasible because everyone can apply for it. According to Clare McCann, “more than 101,000 schools and residential facilities have enrolled in the NSLP until 2012, and it makes it possible for all school children in the United States to receive a nutritious lunch each and every school day.” This program is set to “provide low-cost or free school lunch meals to qualified students through subsidies to schools” according to Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (79 P.L. 396, 60 Stat. 230). Therefore, there is no doubt that NSLP is not hard to popularize everywhere.
The National School Lunch Program has also met some challenges during the implement. Although children have enrolled in this program and get their reduced price or free meal, they will throw a lot of nutritious food they do not want to eat, which is a huge waste of money and makes the healthy meal do not work anymore. There is a study in Boston Public Schools, “on average, students discarded roughly 19 percent of their entrées, 47 percent of their fruit, 25 percent of their milk, and 73 percent of their vegetables.” “It was estimated that $432,349.05 worth of food is wasted annually at lunch by students in Grades 6–8 in [Boston Public Schools].” What is more, because children throw away food they do not want to eat, they will not get enough to eat, which is really bad for their bodies. Professor Michael Marcenelle who is the nutrition director of Montgomery public school also did a survey in her school, which shows that in 5 school days 45.3% of food is wasted. Even though the USDA mandatory require children to place more fruit and vegetables on children’s trays, a lot of children only consume few of these fruit and vegetables. These waste makes the National School Lunch Program not as effective as it should be. The study leader of NSLP Sarah Amin told CBS news that the mandatory requirement of “child to select a fruit or vegetable under the updated national school lunch program guidelines is no longer came into effect.”
However, the National School Lunch Program is still the best policy to reduce the risk for children to get type 2 diabetes. Measures have already been taken to make children finish their healthy lunch meal. Amin also suggested that “schools can take steps to make fruits and vegetables more enticing to children, such as slicing them rather than serving them whole, offering them with dips and incorporating them into other parts of the meal” in her study. Because this policy is addressing the root of children type 2 diabetes, and it has been proved to be effective in Coronado. Wasting issue can be solved gradually with developing good habits of children.