American Children’s Diet – The Case for Food Education

American Children’s Diet – The Case For Food Education

Tue 03 Sep 2013

Story by The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)

As the back-to-school season kicks in and the conversation around school food and children’s diet has picked back up, the folks at Food Day have just launched a new Infographic on kid’s diets.

What are the Facts?

• More than 1/3 of American children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 are overweight or obese

• More than 80 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 18 do not eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits or vegetables each day

• Children aged 8 to 18 consume nearly 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day; twice the recommended amount

• Boys consume an average of 27 teaspoons per day, while girls consume an average of 20 teaspoons

See the full Infographic at

Food Education – A Powerful Tool

Schools across the country are working hard to improve school meal options (check out this list of schools successfully implementing new meal guidelines) and despite some challenges, more than half are already meeting the updated standards, and many more are well on their way.

This year schools will also begin implementing updated nutrition standards for school breakfasts, and starting next year, there will be stronger standards for snacks and beverages sold in schools through vending machines, school stores and a la carte lines.

While the updates to the actual food served at school is a big step in the right direction, change does take time and food education in an important element in helping these changes. In elementary schools, students receive just 3.4 hours of food and nutrition on average each school year.

Teaching our children about real food and why there are changes being made to the food available at school will empower them to try new foods and menus. We know that children who learn about fruit and vegetables are more likely to eat them so why not apply this to the fruit and vegetables being served in the cafeteria too!

Bringing food education in the school day can get kids excited about new foods, and teaching them where they come from, why they are good from them and how they impact their bodies can help them make the right choices in the cafeteria and throughout school campus.

Check out our school food revolution eBook for 30 top tips on school food, from getting students on board (kids can often be the most powerful advocates), introducing school food and lunchtime champions to getting hands-on with taste tests and simple cooking demos and sessions (see our plum, lettuce and beet lessons here, great to get started with!)

If you are interested in going further and getting food education into the classroom, then check out these resources for ideas to get you started, and read about great programs already in action here.

If you think kids need more food education in schools, sign up to our ‘Get Food Education in Every School’ campaign, and send us your thoughts and stories by emailing

While school is not the only place that their needs to be a focus on food and education, we believe that going back to school with the right combination of improving food choices and providing food education can help to reverse these facts.

The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)


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