Should Junk Food Be Banned In Schools?
Junk food has been blamed as a major contributing factor to the high rate of obesity and overweight cases in the U.S. and across the world. In the United States, for instance, 20 percent of the population is categorized as either obese or overweight. Schools are a key area in which dieting habits are addressed. Consequently, the debate on whether or not junk food should be banned in school remains vibrant. This paper evaluates the two sides of the debate and finds that a ban decision is gratuitous and counterproductive.
Given the high number of people who die annually from complications associated with obesity, having an obese rate of 1 in 5 people (20 percent) is alarming. Some of the key arguments raised in support of banning junk food are explained below. First, poor eating habits are often developed at early ages in a child’s development. Such habits ultimately result in major health consequences including obesity. Given that children spend most of their daytime at school, banning junk food can be an effective foundation for children’s healthy habits.
Besides, junk food has high-calorie content and low nutrient value. When school children are allowed to continue buying and consuming junk food from school cafeterias, they believe that it is healthy. They have no information that it is harmful to their health. It is incumbent upon relevant authorities to take charge and ensure that children grow up to become healthy, responsible adults.
However, the arguments raised against the banning of junk food are more convincing. First, key decisions affecting any school are to be determined by school boards, not the state or national government. As school boards are influential and have absolute control over major decisions touching on the welfare of learners, the decision to ban junk food must be left to individual school boards. A collective national decision would be counterproductive and seems to sabotage the authority of school boards.
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Besides, the definition of junk food is controversial. Many people consider junk food to be soda, pastries, pizza, potato chips, and other high-sugar, high-fat meals. Other high-fat foods such as cheeseburger are often doubted as junk food. Surprisingly, pizza, cheeseburger, soda, and fried chicken fingers are the food that most school cafeterias and vending machines serve. Before thinking of banning junk food, the government first needs to clarify what junk food is.
In addition, the school system is designed to teach children about the making of choices. Therefore, when the government or some other authority makes an across-the-board decision to ban junk food, the children who form the consumer base are unable to make decisions as expected. Such a move would be a way of taking away children’s ability to choose what they want to eat. The best approach is to teach children about what healthy food is, and allow them to independently choose what food to consume. Teaching healthy choices is the better option. In fact, when teachers emphasize physical exercise, students can remain healthy. It is all about putting the decision-making power in the hands of the consumer, not taking it away.
In addition, junk food sold in vending machines enables schools to raise money. Thus schools are able to raise the money needed in undertaking such activities as the purchase of relevant school supplies and furniture. What is more, most parents allow their children to eat junk food at home. Consequently, banning such food in school vending machines and cafeterias would have undesired effects. From home, children would still carry junk food to school and consume it. This way, the school would not be benefiting financially.
In conclusion, both parents and teachers have a role to play in bringing up a nutrition-conscious and health-conscious child. The most powerful tool to help a child grow up effectively is education. Educating the child would help him to make the right decisions in life. As discussed in this paper, junk food should not be banned in schools as that would be counterproductive and ineffective.