Trump Administration Fights to Cut Obama-Era School Lunch Nutrition Standards
“According to the 2015 guidelines that are currently in force, poor diet and lack of exercise are likely related to preventable chronic disease in nearly 120 million American adults, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.”
The Trump administration argued to a federal court on Monday that state governments could not sue over cuts to health standards for the National School Lunch Program that critics are concerned would increase health risks for children and increase U.S. medical costs.
“This rule recognizes that a state has no legal interest in protecting its citizens from the federal government, and that only the United States, not the states, may represent its citizens and ensure their protection under federal law in federal matters,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan said in the filing on Monday, according to Reuters.
Rollbacks To School Lunch Health Guidelines
Illinois, New York, California, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont and D.C. sued Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in April over a change that slashed nutrition rules set in 2012 as part of former first lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to fight childhood obesity.
The rollbacks included halving the amount of required whole grains to be served, allowing schools to offer meals with mostly refined grains, such as noodles and tortillas. They also included the delay and elimination of new rules that would limit students’ sodium intake.
While Berman argued the states provided no evidence that children from schools previously exempted from the whole grain standards suffered adverse health effects, excessive refined grain intake has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. High sodium consumption has also been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.
Purdue justified the change by arguing that, “Kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash.” Contrary to Purdue’s claim, USDA researchers produced a report this year that showed more nutritious meals were more popular with students.
Consequences Of Bad Nutrition In The United States
Derrick Johnson of the American Prospect writes that the United States’ nutrition laws are deeply influenced by corporate actors like Pepsi, Mars, Nestle, Monsanto, DuPont and dozens of others that financially contribute to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
Johnson writes that the consequences of these conflicts-of-interest are massive, with two-thirds of American adults and one-third of American children overweight or obese:
“According to the 2015 guidelines that are currently in force, poor diet and lack of exercise are likely related to preventable chronic disease in nearly 120 million American adults, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. The direct and indirect costs, in medical care and lost work time, not to mention sheer suffering, run hundreds of billions of dollars.”