Childhood obesity has been increasing at an alarming rate over the past few years — it’s estimated that one in three adolescents are now obese or overweight. Interestingly, while the general public previously viewed obesity as a personal issue, it’s now widely considered to be a national one due to the associated health care costs that are continually rising.
But what’s the best way to address this issue? A recent survey reveals that more than 60% of people agree that schools should be at the forefront of helping kids stay healthy and avoid obesity. And 78% think healthier school food will also improve academic performance.
Because children spend so much time at school, parents say the institutions have a greater opportunity to influence habits by implementing more physical exercise and making fresh drinking water available. In addition, as it’s becoming increasingly apparent that a healthy diet goes hand in hand with academic performance, schools are incorporating more plant-centric, meat-free menus. Case in point: the Los Angeles Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District both recently incorporated Meatless Monday into their cafeterias.
Fortunately, we’re starting to see childhood obesity rates dropping in some cities, an encouraging trend credited in part to the significant changes being made in school nutrition policies. And this success demonstrates the importance of offering students healthier food options in our nation’s cafeterias.
While ending obesity is a major objective, a meat-free diet also contributes to longer, healthier, and less stressful lives. In fact a vegetarian diet has been shown to reduce our risk of heart disease, diabetes, various cancers, kidney-related diseases, as well as other ailments. Encouraging children to choose vegetarian foods can improve their quality of life while also help to create healthy habits for a lifetime. And it’s a win for the planet and animals too!
Interested in urging your local school district to implement more vegetarian options? Learn more about our Meatless Monday campaign.