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article imageMichigan schools are banning cupcakes?

By Laura Trowbridge     Nov 16, 2010 in Health
For those who love cupcakes, it may be a distressing time to be a child or a parent of a child in Michigan schools. Cupcakes are no longer welcome now in some schools with the new voluntary Michigan nutrition standards, which may soon become mandatory.
According to The Detroit News, Michigan "ranks 41st in the nation for the estimated 12.4 percent of obese children."
Childhood obesity is linked to 20 chronic diseases, so Michigan has recently come up with new nutrition standards for the schools to voluntarily follow. There are 32 states in the nation that have mandated nutrition standards, and Michigan health officials are looking to join in the mandatory rules now.
The new standards for school food extends to vending machines, parties a classroom may throw, what should be sold for fundraisers, school stores, the food found in the faculty lunchroom, as well as in the students' lunchroom.
"Revamped by a coalition of health leaders working to combat childhood obesity, the standards emphasize that schools should have more healthy food such as whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, nuts and legumes. And that means many new ways of offering food in the school system. For instance, vending machines should offer only 100 percent juice, low-fat milk, water and diet pop; alternatives should be found to candy sale fundraisers; and food should be minimized during celebrations of birthdays, holidays or to reward success in classrooms."
Alma district students are no longer allowed to bring in cupcakes or other sweet treats to celebrate their birthdays with, as they have in the past. Instead, they can celebrate a birthday with their classmates with 30 minutes extra time in gym class.
Principal of Alma's Hillcrest Elementary School Tom Neuenfeldt said: "If you look at the fact we have 350 boys and girls in our school and 180 days of school, that means we have two students every day who are wandering around every day passing out cupcakes and snacks."
One mother of a student who brought cupcakes to school for his birthday last year, but who cannot under the new rules this year, said: "Banning birthday cupcakes punishes all children for the bad example set by some parents, and will lead to them binging when sweets are available.
"Taking away a cupcake treat at school isn't going to make the kids skinny and make them get out and exercise. They have to have a good base at home."
Other parents are all for the new food standards and policies.
Another mother of an Alma elementary student said: "I know a lot of people don't like it, but I think it's great.
"A lot of people think kids need to be kids and don't need to be told they can't have cupcakes for their birthday. But I feel that these kids who are overweight, they get it from their parents because they probably all have bad eating habits, and they don't spend time exercising. Maybe this will help parents with the school stepping up and doing something about it."
Vice president of W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan Gail Christopher, who also serves on the board of directors for Trust for America's Health, said: "Michigan's updated nutrition standards reflect progress in trying to tackle the obesity epidemic.
"I don't think we've come to grips with the implication for our future, both as a state and as a country. If trends continue, we think we have health care costs now, they pale in comparison to what the future will hold."
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