Jay Evensen: School nutrition? Why not emphasize physical fitness instead?

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  • chilly Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    When I was in grade school, our little school district embraced President Eisenhower's Physical Fitness Challenge. During part of the year we were tested on various activities. My PE class was just before lunch. I don't remember the goal for "sit-ups, but it was something under one hundred. Richard Sorenson, a classmate, started doing them near the end of class and continued through the lunch hour, with the PE teacher at his side. He cranked out nearly a thousand and was hailed as a hero by us all.

    I always preferred taking a sack lunch, witch was inevitably a baloney sandwich, an apple and a couple of Pecan Sandies.

    I can only remember one boy in our whole school who would have been considered overweight and by today's norms he would only be considered football lineman material.

    Richard, if you're out there, congratulations again on those sit-ups!

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    May 31, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    In the little rural school where I used to teach, the lunch ladies would talk about how nice it was when they were allowed to think. Knowing each of the children by name (and most of their home situations)in this little community, they would tailor servings to match individual needs. No student left the room hungry and little food was thrown away.

    Teachers sympathize with them. We know what it's like. We used to be trusted by our state legislators.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    May 30, 2014 7:29 p.m.

    Public schools are supported largely by state and local funds. They are governed largely by state laws on curriculum. If Utah wants fit kids, they can certainly do something about it without a mandate from the Feds. Add another PE class to the graduation requirements for high school.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 30, 2014 5:32 p.m.


    I do not remember mandatory health insurance I believe you are wrong on that.

    There was no mandatory health insurance until obamacare, and that is purely the democrats doing.

    I do remember low flush toilets a which was primarily pushed by the left as was CFL bulbs and the progressive plan of No Child left behind, and was strongly against those was many conservatives and republicans.

    Too much government is our live is still too much government no matter the source.

    They mostly plans to appease the left and progre4ssives, the Bushes being the progressives they are were wrong, and they did nothing to help the party.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 30, 2014 10:31 a.m.

    "Because liberals think the rest of us are stupid and just can't make it without them forcing us to do what's best for us, according to them!"

    You mean like when

    The GOP introduced mandatory health insurance?
    Or when G Bush Sr. introduced Cap and Trade and mandated low flush toilets?
    Or when G Bush jr mandated CFL bulbs or No Child left behind

    You guys have such selective memories. Do you sincerely believe that only the dems push their will on others?

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    May 30, 2014 7:44 a.m.

    Good nutrition and the value of exercise starts at home. However, it is obvious that "home" is doing a pretty crummy job.

    Kids need good examples, and if school is the only place to get that good example, good for us as a society. Mrs Obama has made a campaign to help schools show kids the value of nutrition, and exercise as well. Just why folks criticize this is unfathomable.

    Lastly, if we did not have such obsession with testing in schools, maybe we would find time for fitness classes. Maybe we should channel the enormous resources poured into interscholastic athletic competition into fitness instruction. Might even save us money in the long term. Fit people cost us less in healthcare down the line.

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    May 29, 2014 11:18 p.m.

    Of course schools should do both. Provide nutritious food and have a daily PE class. Mrs. Obama is right to push this issue.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 29, 2014 8:48 p.m.

    You are so right "the Truth"... I was so deeply offended by Laura Bush and her reading push.... I'll teach my kids to read if I want to... she can't tell me reading skills are good for my kids. But you know, like Mountainman says, the Laura Bush thought we were stupid and needed to be told to read.

    Unbelievable. We go from healthy eating for kids at school is socialism, to I guess we have to choose between good nutrition "or" fitness. You can't do both evidently. It's too bad because Mrs. Obama has been promoting fitness as well... I guess that would be a double whammy.... socialism and communism all wrapped into a dictatorship promoting fitness and nutrition.

    I wonder if the same crowd feels Ann Romney's work as first lady of MA was out of line when she promoted teenage pregnancy prevention efforts. Were these same Michele Obama detractors raising up their voices against Ann... telling her to "why not just get government out of peoples lives and leave them alone!!!"

    Surely they don't have different standards... ok for one side.....but not for the other? Would they?

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 29, 2014 7:29 p.m.

    No matter the good intentions,

    no dictatorship is worth it.

    Let us us be free to live our lives and pursue our happiness.

  • Mormon Book Worm ----------, UT
    May 29, 2014 6:25 p.m.

    Oh yes, here we go again. As a current student in middle school, I find the "healthy" (but still processed and very greasy) school lunches are, in fact, DISGUSTING, so I've found a loophole.

    Enter; home lunches. Lunches that you bring to school in a paper bag that contain whatever goodies you want them to.

    Now what? After the changing-school -lunches-to-make -them-"healthy", comes the physical education (which might work), and then schools will find that--wait for it--home lunches contain cookies with high calorie amounts. And then you might be saying bye bye to your yummy cookie.

    I just wish that we wouldn't be forced to eat what they tell us to and we could just go back to the simple days.

  • OneWifeOnly San Diego, CA
    May 29, 2014 2:57 p.m.

    If a school loses money on lunches for six months in a row, something is wrong. And there is evidence a few districts are doing just that. There is indeed no such thing as a free school lunch.

    You can’t exercise your way out of a potato chip bag and a can of high fructose corn syrup soda. It’s too bad that it costs money to store fresh produce but I wonder what is more expensive: a lifetime of diabetes drugs and medical care or a refrigerator to store fresh produce.

    I finished the 10-day challenge to eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners from my diet. Essentially the challenge is to try for 10 days to eat foods that do not contain any processed sugars or artificial sweeteners (sugar found in natural fruits, vegetables and milk are ok). I’m now past day 20 and was shocked to discover today that carrots taste good. If we can eliminate the junk food from school lunches and replace with fresh produce, maybe school children would discover vegetables taste good too.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    May 29, 2014 2:00 p.m.

    I think schools asked for it with pop and candy machines and Cheetos as part of the sold lunch before action was taken.

    Schools should not have gyms. They should have fitness centers like adults go to.

    Fitness for Life isn't physical activity class. There are not many online classes and students would rather leave their schedule open for other things like math and science and language. PE is too popular. You can't get 2000 into the gym daily for activity. I think schools should move away from gyms and have fitness centers instead. In house track. Cycle class rooms.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 29, 2014 1:44 p.m.

    @ Patriot. Because liberals think the rest of us are stupid and just can't make it without them forcing us to do what's best for us, according to them!

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    May 29, 2014 1:27 p.m.

    why not just get government out of peoples lives and leave them alone!!!

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    May 29, 2014 1:10 p.m.

    @Midwest Mom

    I did a search on this page and you are the first person to post the words "racist" and "black". Why do you feel the need to defend against an attack that never happened?

    May 29, 2014 11:48 a.m.

    Yes. Let's blame kids not exercising on Mrs. Obama. Do you know the number one class our high school kids are taking on line? Fitness for Life - the only required physical education class required to graduate.

    Perhaps the State should change that loophole?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 29, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    Where have you been? Mrs. Obama has been emphasizing nutrition AND exercise - BOTH! By the way, experts tell us that nutrition plays a far bigger role in weight loss than does exercise. By this, no one is saying don't exercise, not at all. Both nutrition and exercise are critically important to good health and proper weight. But please, don't distort what Mrs. Obama is trying to accomplish. In fact, why don't you push our local school districts to give more emphasis to PE. Not more on competitive sports, on various physical activities, both in school and to develop skills and interest in life long activities. Football doesn't count.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    "If a school loses money on lunches for six months in a row, something is wrong."
    Why? Maybe I missed something here, but I didn't realize that my childs elementary school needed to make a profit. I always thought it was about teaching kids......

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    There isn't big money in focusing on allowing kids to play sports. That is all it boils down to. Big money, big donors.

    If you don't have deep pockets to sue, then it's not an issue. For example the NAACP focuses on racist issues in the US when there is a deep pocket (ie police, politicians, businesses etc). I have yet to hear them lament about racism in foreign lands, the slaughter of pigmies in Africa etc. There is no money to be had over there.

    If the schools had private gyms and students were getting fat, then the gym would be sued for having fat kids around it. Rather than going after the parents the school and leaders that take away gym time.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 29, 2014 8:34 a.m.

    Both not just one.

  • David Centerville, UT
    May 29, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    Midwest Mom,

    Racisms? Really?

    There is no evidence that the criticisms directed towards the Obamas is racist. Rather, the criticisms are based upon differing philosophies and politics.

    But the racist charge is very predictable. It is thrown out there anytime traction is needed by the Democratic party.

    Criticism for the cost of school lunch programs is racist? Hardly.

    Now, to be honest, I commend Mrs. Obama for highlighting the obesity problem in America and I support her efforts. Nutrition and exercise are both needed and should be emphasized.

    There, I'm a white, male, Republican and I support Mrs. Obama in this. Hardly racist.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 29, 2014 8:19 a.m.

    Plain and simple junk food might be cheaper but should it be a staple in a school lunch. If our kids have a diet problem, and many do, why reinforce that.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    May 29, 2014 6:57 a.m.

    The first lady advocated better nutrition and growing our own vegetables. For that she has been highly criticized. I don't remember Laura Bush being criticized for encouraging reading over emphasizing math.

    Criticize the Obamas where they deserve, but let's be honest that this attack is purely political and frequently racist. How? It's the disproportionate vitriol aimed at a stay-at-home mother. The only difference between her and previous first ladies is that she is black.

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    May 29, 2014 6:41 a.m.

    I also remember a time when kids were allowed to go out to the playground essentially 3 times during the school day. Morning and afternoon recess and noon recess after you ate. We played basketball, softball, dodgeball, swung on swings, climbed on jungle gyms, jumped rope, etc.
    Yes we still had some kids who were overweight but they were getting some exercise also. 90+ kids on a 150' x 250' lot and very few injuries required more than a Band-Aid.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 29, 2014 6:18 a.m.

    " School nutrition? Why not emphasize physical fitness instead?"

    Why not both?

    The school lunch program was established in 1948 because it was found to be necessary for the National Defense.

    It was a direct response to the millions of children who had experienced malnutrition during the Great Depression that left them unfit for military service when they tried to enlist during World War II.

    Good nutrition makes good sense. And so does exercise.

    When I was a kid, the Presidents Council on physical fitness, was a big deal. Guidelines had been established for minimum fitness requirements, and yes we had at three recesses a day when we could run around as much as we wanted. I couldn't have imagined a day without recess.

    I feel sorry for kids today, who do not have that opportunity.

    The "President's Council on Physical Fitness" still exists, but you hardly ever hear about it. "Conservatives" would probably get upset if is was promoted. They would probably accuse Obama of trying to systematically brainwash their children.

    That's the difference between now an then. Extremists like the John Birchers, were dismissed as irrelevant. Now they are mainstream in the Red States.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    May 29, 2014 5:45 a.m.

    “Who could argue? Except that at no time did she mention costs, which is, of course, the point of the proposal”.(proposed legislation to allow states to opt out of the nutrition requirements).

    And there you have it - the bottom line of every argument. How much will it cost?

    “Her “Let’s move!” campaign is commendable, but it doesn't command anywhere near the resources of the nutrition program.”

    Well, duh! If I have an exercise program for my family that includes a daily walk and more vigorous training three times a week, how will the cost of that program compare to the family’s weekly grocery bill?

    Yes, the First Lady should be commended for her “Let’s Move!” program and she should also be allowed to use her position as a mother who is married to the president to call attention to anytime Congress tries to shortchange the health of nation's children.