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22 Responses

  1. Emolee
    Emolee August 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

    I am suprised you don’t have to “qualify” for the breakfast by having a “normal” BMI. That will be next (I hope not).

    Some people have their priorities so messed up. How can he stand the thought of kids being hungry when they start school – how can he stand to know that he could do something about this but chooses not to because fat panic?

    And kids (and adults) can be fat and hungry, fat and mal-nourished, fat and starving. For many if not all people, when the body is burning fat for fuel, the painful/weakening physical sensations of hunger and/or low blood sugar still occur.

  2. Katya
    Katya August 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

    Given that eating breakfast actually helps prevent obesity, Bloomberg’s concern is misplaced. Not to mention that it demonstrably helps kids focus in school, so boosting academic achievement. (Assuming that you aren’t persuaded by the fact that it’s really awful to think of poor kids starting the day hungry rather than fed.) Yes, there should be an effort to ensure that the breakfasts are healthy and nutritious, and not just high-sugar processed foods, but I don’t see how you can be opposed to feeding poor children before you expect them to sit at desks and learn all day.

  3. Henry
    Henry August 22, 2012 at 5:17 pm |

    umm eating breakfast makes you lose weight vs not eating it. There are numerous studies on this I’m too lazy to google. This is what happens when politicians do science, something we’ve seen piles of lately.

  4. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan August 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm |

    Bad science! So much bad, bad Bloomberg science! >_<

  5. Isidore
    Isidore August 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

    Breakfast eating has been *correlated* with lower weight, but that does not prove that skipping it causes weight gain or eating breakfast makes you lose weight. Kind of makes sense to me that people with a faster metabolism would eat more meals. Also, most of the breakfast-weight comparison studies were funded by cereal companies, so…

    However, poor nutrition most definitely causes cognitive impairment, so the inherent value in schools providing breakfast for low income children is a big DUH.

    Summary of a study summarizing the current studies on the breakfast weight link: http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/yjada/article/S0002-8223%2805%2900151-3/abstract

  6. Jill
    Jill August 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm | *

    Huh. This whole thing strikes me as… strange. NYC already provides free breakfast for all qualified students in the cafeteria, so it’s not like breakfast in the classroom will cost the city any more money. And breakfast in the classroom makes it easier for kids to access it — they can just eat during first period instead of having to get to school early to eat in the cafeteria (where they’ll also be clearly marked as Poor Kids). And if the Bloomberg administration is so concerned with obesity, they could make sure that classroom breakfasts are healthy and nutritious instead of calorie-laden and unhealthy, like a lot of school lunches.

    Seems like a win-win-win?

  7. Ruchama
    Ruchama August 22, 2012 at 6:21 pm |

    And if the Bloomberg administration is so concerned with obesity, they could make sure that classroom breakfasts are healthy and nutritious instead of calorie-laden and unhealthy, like a lot of school lunches.

    I looked at the breakfast menus the last time this issue came up. They’re set city-wide. It’s generally either a muffin or a bagel, a stick of string cheese, and a piece of fruit. I think a little carton of milk also comes with it, and if the kids get to pick which milk they want, they’ll usually pick the chocolate milk. So, not the ideal super-healthy breakfast, but reasonably OK, health-wise.

  8. Ruchama
    Ruchama August 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

    This whole thing strikes me as… strange. NYC already provides free breakfast for all qualified students in the cafeteria, so it’s not like breakfast in the classroom will cost the city any more money.

    According to the linked article, NYC schools provide free breakfast in the cafeteria to any student, not just the ones who qualify for free lunch. But, a lot of kids would rather spend the before-school time playing with their friends, or they don’t want to be seen as the poor kid who gets the free breakfast. When I was in high school, there was cafeteria breakfast, but almost nobody every ate it.

    (One reasonable objection that I’ve heard to this program is that, with getting the food handed out and the kids eating and then cleaning up and getting the kids to all sit down again, it can end up taking a significant amount of classroom time. But I’m not sure how to fix that problem, since the classroom time isn’t as useful if the kids haven’t eaten.)

  9. Drahill
    Drahill August 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm |

    Oh, this doesn’t surprise me. I remember a little while back, Bloomberg also supported a proposed city rule that would have required homeless shelters to turn away food donations that had excessive amounts of fat or sodium. Which made no sense, given that…well, wouldn’t one think that the homeless 1.) would be happy for anything they can get and 2.) perhaps the homeless have more pressing issues to overcome than obesity?

  10. GinnyC
    GinnyC August 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm |

    Ruchama at 8 said

    I looked at the breakfast menus the last time this issue came up. They’re set city-wide. It’s generally either a muffin or a bagel, a stick of string cheese, and a piece of fruit. I think a little carton of milk also comes with it, and if the kids get to pick which milk they want, they’ll usually pick the chocolate milk

    That’s kind of bad, actually. I wish that they would have more breakfast options that don’t involve milk! I would have eaten nothing but the fruit and maybe the bagel as a kid.

    Possible trigger warning for talking about disordered eating…..

    I’m sure that some of my disordered eating (which is finally getting better in the past few years) came from getting used to skipping meals in school because I didn’t like milk. I often didn’t like the food too, but it is really hard to eat when you have nothing to drink. At best, they might give us a little carton of juice that was smaller than the milk cartons. I got used to feeling hungry and considered it a more pleasant feeling than eating much of the school lunches. It took me years in college to retrain my body to notice hunger properly. Now that I’m an adult, it turns out I can’t have milk products at all, so maybe that’s related to why I hated it as a kid.

    Somehow I thought that school food in NYC would be easier on people with food allergies, intolerances, or aversions.

  11. zuzu
    zuzu August 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

    Well, at least he’s not claiming that providing breakfast for poor children threatens national security.

  12. Ruchama
    Ruchama August 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

    Somehow I thought that school food in NYC would be easier on people with food allergies, intolerances, or aversions.

    School lunches are a federally funded and subsidized program, and the nutrition guidelines, which include milk, are set at the federal level. (There’s a whole lot of food politics going into it, with agricultural surplus and lobbying and a lot of other stuff, but what it essentially ends up with is a binder of nutrition regulations that’s several inches thick, and for most schools, it’s way easier to just get packaged food made by companies that abide by the guidelines than it is to try to figure out how to make food from scratch that fits all the rules.)

  13. chava
    chava August 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm |

    And if the Bloomberg administration is so concerned with obesity, they could make sure that classroom breakfasts are healthy and nutritious instead of calorie-laden and unhealthy, like a lot of school lunches.

    “Calorie-laden” is not necessarily equal to unhealthy, esp for, you know, *hungry children.* Particularly when it’s breakfast.

  14. GinnyC
    GinnyC August 22, 2012 at 7:56 pm |

    @ Ruchama 13

    That makes sense. It doesn’t sound very good for children, but it makes sense.

  15. Ruchama
    Ruchama August 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm |

    There are new guidelines that I think go into effect next year that are supposed to make things easier — they list how many servings of grains, how many servings of vegetables, and so on, as opposed to the old ones which listed how much protein, how much calcium, how much of certain vitamins, and you had to figure out how much of each thing was in each food and add it all up. It’ll probably take a little while of seeing how schools actually use the new rules to tell how well they work.

  16. Tom
    Tom August 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm |

    … eating breakfast has been linked to better performance in school. And, of course, school performance contributes to to financial success later in life which is correlated with lower rates of obesity. So even if you *do* buy into the idea that we can make fat kids thinner, this is clearly a good thing.

    I agree with this post as a whole, but query the reasoning above. The proposition reduces to ‘academic achievement makes you rich, so if all kids achieve more academically, they’ll all be richer – and consequently less likely to be obese.’

    It seems likely that relative academic achievement makes you relatively richer. Everyone achieving more academically just shifts the distribution of achievement.

    Of course there’s no argument to make against a better educated population overall, I’m just not sure it would tie back to obesity rates in the manner suggested.

  17. Fat Grad
    Fat Grad August 23, 2012 at 9:26 am |

    There are new guidelines that I think go into effect next year that are supposed to make things easier — they list how many servings of grains, how many servings of vegetables, and so on, as opposed to the old ones which listed how much protein, how much calcium, how much of certain vitamins, and you had to figure out how much of each thing was in each food and add it all up. It’ll probably take a little while of seeing how schools actually use the new rules to tell how well they work.

    Actually, I think the new guidelines have gone into effect THIS year, and they are already having negative consequences. I believe that we should absolutely have government programs such as these, but this is what happens when they are implemented based off of fear and bad science instead of doing what is best for citizens. I know that NYC has already had to stop a program using real chefs and replace it with packaged, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/nyregion/new-york-city-ends-school-lunch-program-that-used-professional-chefs.htma "healthy" school lunch. And in my small town, and many other places, there are guidelines in place that force school officials to confiscate homemade lunches if they do not meet guidelines and replace them with the school lunch, which is presumably more “healthy.” My son is starting kindergarten this year and we received a note telling us that our school does this and we will be charged if they have to do it. Needless to say, I am writing a letter to them and to the BOE. I think that the problem is, like many are saying, we are so concerned with fat bodies that we are overlooking the many-faceted nature of health and nutrition, instead focusing on a very narrow and oppressive set of guidelines. Very upsetting.

  18. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb August 25, 2012 at 12:24 am |

    Another thing Bloomberg may be failing to realize is that some parents use school breakfasts as before school supervision for their kids, because they have to be to work the same time their kids’ school starts and they cannot afford before-school-care. For the families who utilize school breakfasts as supervised time for their kids (as well as for FOOD FOR KIDS), but can’t afford to BUY school breakfasts, the families who need the most help would be receiving the least, if free breakfasts are taken away.

  19. Miss S
    Miss S August 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm |

    Late to this discussion, but GinnyC, that’s a good point. I remember the juice cartons being smaller than milk, and never realized how odd that was until reading your comment just now.

    I would have assumed that things would be different now, given the awareness of intolerances and allergies. I know that the private school my aunt teaches at is set up to accommodate virtually everyone in terms of dietary restrictions. That’s obviously not universal though.

  20. GinnyC
    GinnyC August 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    I assumed that it would be different now as well, Miss S.

    I think it might be better if schools moved towards giving children more choices of what to eat. I don’t think most people are likely to test their kids for food allergies and intolerances unless the allergies are severe enough to be obvious without testing. But if students had the choice to drink water, it would be an easy option. I don’t think suppling water would cost much either. It would also be great if kids had a vegan choice, a choice with meat, and a vegetarian choice each day. Then they could pick different things to eat on different days. I’m sure that would be too expensive for many school districts, though.

    Also, I’m not sure what school districts do about kids who eat kosher or halal or don’t eat meat for religious reasons. I guess public schools assume that children are Christian and can eat milk etc, which is depressing.

  21. im
    im August 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

    This is completely pathetic. There are much better ways to reduce obesity. (I will not trouble myself to defend this worthy goal.)

    I don’t see why everybody being better educated would not provide a better economy and more wealth for everyone.

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