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Food Companies Battle Nutritionists Over School Lunch

November 14, 2011
Plain English Version

A battle over childhood obesity is taking place in congress. Federal officials are proposing new guidelines for the nutrition content of school lunches. The guidelines limit the amount of starchy foods, such as french fries , that can be served in school.

A new study says starchy carbohydrates like those in potatoes are responsible for many of the nation’s health problems. They cause obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. French fries and potato chips are the worst uses of the potato, but even boiled potatoes contribute to weight gain.

The food industry agrees that eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing salt is a good thing. It says it has developed healthier foods over time to make school lunches more nutritious. But they say the government’s proposals go too far too quickly.

Many congressional representatives from farm states are opposing the new rules.

The House has passed a bill directing the Agriculture Department to start over with a new proposal. The Senate has restricted the department from cutting back on potatoes.

“This whole fight obscures the fact that the U.S.D.A.’s proposal is about helping kids eat a wide variety of vegetable and make lunches overall healthier,” said a nutrition advocate. “It’s about our children’s health. I think that point has long since been lost.”


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