Exploring the Link Between Youth Health, Diabetes, Obesity, and School Diets

Approximately 1 in 4 teens have diabetes or prediabetes as well as 1 in 5 school-aged children are obese. During school time kids consume up to half of their daily calories at school with too much junk food and not enough vegetables, fruits and whole grain bread. Surveys indicating a good portion of children do not meet healthy eating recommendations. By analyzing Eastlake Middle school for the date of 11/15/2018 menus, self-created tables with the recommend daily allowance of each nutrition; analytical observations were able to be made about whether the school gives healthy meals.

Self-created tables were used to obtain compressive analytical nutritional values on Eastlake Middle menus for 37 meals. For growing adolescents, their diet should consist of grain products, vegetables, protein, fiber, and fruits. Overall the menus at Eastlake Middle that were observed had a good amount of protein, carbs, iron, saturated fat, and the total fat was fine. However, its sugar, cholesterol, and sodium were high with fiber being low. While looking at the tables, the average quantity of protein was 7.

8g when rounding (mean). This shows that the meals had the appropriate amount of protein as well as having some items exhibit high amounts. The RDA recommends daily intake for male and female is 34g of protein, while looking at the lunch table the BBQ Pulled pork Sandwich had 18g of protein alone and the menu had more meals with even higher amounts of protein.

Protein is important for students because it serves as recover, builder, or repairer for tissues in the muscles, skin, organs, cells, enzymes, blood, hormones, hair, and nails.

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Even as a desperate remedy protein provides energy for the body. Moving on, the carbs in the meals are neither high or low, with the average of carbs in each meal being 35.48g when rounded. RDA recommends for both male and female to intake 130g of carbs per day. The Grab and Go peanut butter, cranberry muffin box had 65.052g, this clearly supports the idea of Eastlake Middle making sure they give enough carbs for their students. Carbs are stored in the body are known as glycogen, while most are kept in the liver some and are saved in the muscle with a small amount is put in the blood. The supply of glucose is important for students to keep up with school work as without it the students may feel uncoordinated, lightheaded, unable to concentrate, and weak.

The school maintaining a good amount of carbs has been crucial for students as Eastlake Middle already show in their menus. Next on the list is fiber as it is important because it prevents diabetes, heart disease, lowers blood cholesterol, some types of cancers, and it helps maintain a healthy weight. As fiber makes the body feel full preventing overeating while the fiber itself has no calories. The RDI recommends that a female should intake 26g per day while a male should intake 31g. Despite that, the school average of fiber per meal is 2.7g with 16 out of 37 meals having below 2g of fiber. The school should include more whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, bagels, tortillas, and etc in their foods. Moving forward about half of the items are high in sugar with the mean being 14.4g with only 13 out of 37 of the meals providing how much sugar it contained.

The American Heart Association stated that a female and male in their age group should be consuming 25g of sugar per day. With this data, while looking at the tables 4 out of 13 meals are over the daily intake of sugar that a teen should be consuming. In addition, the fruit plate w/cottage cheese is equivalent to the daily intake of sugar needed per day only. This is alarming as sugar (glucose) is needed for our bodies to function. However, too much can cause an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, acne, diabetes, cancer, depression, production of AGE, drain energy, NAFLD, cavities, and impaired memory. Sugar (glucose) is required for our bodies, but the school should find a balance such as including sugar-free foods or replace the sugar with almond, vanilla, or lemon. They can replace some of their meals with pretzels, trail mix, fruit smoothies, quesadillas, or Parmesan fries. Furthermore, the iron is pretty fair distributed food items in the Eastlake Middle menus with the average being 2.4mg among 15 meals. The RDA suggests that both male and female should ingest 8mg of iron per day. The school could implement lean beef, turkey, fish, chicken, dried fruits, or legumes. As iron is important for growth, development to hormone balance, and metabolism.

Iron is most popular for playing in the production of hemoglobin as its a vital bodily function for the production and transportation of red blood cells. Moving forward, sodium is a crucial nutrient only needed to be consumed in tiny quantities as its used to flavor and preserve food. Additionally, it is important for many body processes, such as fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nervous system function. However, as proven on the self-created tables the Eastlake Middle menus could be an example of a high sodium health risk factor. The meals are especially high in sodium as the average amount of sodium in each item is 322.5mg when rounded. For example, the chicken fajita nachos has 1,099.915mg as well as the chicken Caesar salad w/ Hawaiian roll contains 1149mg only. With at least 5 meals having alarming contents of sodium.

The Linus Pauling Institute suggests that teens should intake 1,500mg of sodium every day. Up to 97% of adolescents in the U.S.A ingest more sodium than they should according to the American Heart Association. As reported by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010, male teens ingested on average about 4,300 milligrams of sodium per day. While teen girls nearly consumed double the recommendation of sodium with roughly 2,900 milligrams per day. This is frightening because with excessive sodium in your diet, it causes the system to contain massive amounts of water, which leads to your heart having to pump harder to get blood through your system. Furthermore, research shows if consumed in high amounts it can lead to high blood pressure, bloating, dehydration, stroke, heart disease heart failure, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis. The school should avoid prepackaged, processed, and prepared foods. They can instead replace some of their food items such as the breakfast egg, bacon potato burrito 10, grab n go peanut butter cranberry muffin box and chicken fajita nachos. Some good nutritional food like hummus in pita, granola bars, and bean w/veggie burrito.

Sodium is important, but it has to be limited by the school. Then there is cholesterol with a mean of 50.1mg in each serving out of 15 meals. The NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program) advocates for the following age group to intake below 170mg of cholesterol. Yet 40% of the meals had a cholesterol level that was nearing the 170 mg daily intake in only one meal. For instance, the breakfast egg, bacon potato burrito 10 had 211.722mg over exceeding the limit. High cholesterol can lead to strokes, brain blockage, pain in the jaw, memory issues, LDL in arteries, low blood flow, heart attacks, stomach pains, numbness in the legs, and gallstones. While cholesterol is important its also produced by the liver and by the majority of cells in our bodies. The body uses cholesterol to build the structure of cell membranes, bile acids, help metabolism, and make hormones. Eastlake Middle should include foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, and multi-grain products.

While avoiding fried foods, sat oils, and simple sugars in baked goods. For total fat, 20 to 35 percent of calories should come from fat for adolescent according to AHA (American Heart Association). The tables show that the total fat in each meal is moderate with an average of 15.4g in each meal. Fats are essential can be harmful if too much is consumed. As fats give your body energy, absorb vitamins, keep skin and hair healthy. Although a diet high in saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart diseases. Therefore, the recommended daily intake of saturated fat should be less than 10% of your total calories according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. When looking at the tables, the mean for saturated fats is 3.3g leads to the conclusion that the school doesn’t have high levels in saturated fats or in total fats. For calories with a solid lunch and breakfast from the school, the students would receive the required calories per day.

When eating an adequate amount of fruit, vegetables, protein, and fiber students do better on their tests than kids who eat foods high in salt and saturated fat. With a healthy diet, students have better memory, concentration, overall health, behavior, academic performance, and habits. When remembering information that they learn during school the kids that consume a healthy meal compared to an unhealthy meal are able to hold the information better by 340% based on instaHealthly (organ school district). Therefore, it important to look at the food that is being provided for children at any school to ensure they can have a good school day. However, many school lunches are filled with preservatives and cheap food as the school’s aren’t given the budget. Participating schools take in nearly $1.30 to spend on each child. While the available money has to cover the food, as well as any labor, equipment, electricity, and other costs. Due to limited time to eat their food it deters students from having a healthy meal.

According to a study by Harvard, students who had less than 20 minutes to eat consumed 13% less of their meal and 10% less of their milk compared to the students who had 25 or more minutes to eat. The imbalance of proper eating according to the recommended calories per day from the USDA will have dramatic input on their growth and well being. To include hormonal changes, headaches, weakened bones, stunned growth, and heart disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

By analyzing Eastlake Middle school for the date of 11/15/2018 menus, self-created tables with the recommend daily allowance of each nutrition; analytical observations were able to be made about whether the school gave healthy meals. The school meals contained an appropriate amount of protein, carbs, iron, saturated fat, and the total fat. The school should improve on giving meals with less sodium, sugar, and cholesterol. As well as giving more fiber in their items to ensure the students would have the energy to continue on with the school day ready to learn. A way to address the stressed students have limited time to eat their nutrition will be to install Healthy super green food, whole grains, and natural drinks vending machines. The continual promotion of a healthy diet in our school system will promote and enhance a healthy society.

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Exploring the Link Between Youth Health, Diabetes, Obesity, and School Diets. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/the-problem-of-obesity-of-school-age-children/

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