Get Healthy Utah News and Blog

School child with healthy school lunch

Message from the Board: School Children Deserve Better Diets

Greg Bell

Greg Bell is the Get Healthy Utah Board Chair. Greg is president of the Utah Hospitals Association, and previously served as lieutenant governor for Utah.

Recent research in Great Britain shows that school children are getting about two-thirds of their calories from “ultra-processed foods (UPFs),” which are heavily processed during their making. UPFs include foods “such as frozen pizzas, fizzy or milk-based drinks, mass-produced packaged bread and many ready meals. Previous research has linked regular consumption of them with obesity and increased long-term risk of health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

It’s much the same story in most Northern European nations, and it’s worse in the U.S. The U.K. study found home-packed meals tended to have more UPFs than school lunches because of national nutritional requirements. As the first world’s diet continues to devolve to manufactured foods with little fiber and fewer whole foods, we can expect more disease and obesity.

This is a public health crisis. We must all do what we can to slow the increase, and ultimately reverse the terrible diet our school children and society in general are eating.