Food shouldn’t be on the classroom reward menu

Neely Yancey Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)– LRHS cafeteria manager Carolyn Henderson is urging an end to food-based classroom rewards.

“I hope that LRHS teachers will take interest in offering rewards other than food,” said Henderson. “There are many great ideas of what to provide students for their achievements.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), child obesity in the United States has tripled since the 1970s, and 1 in 5 school-aged children is obese.

According to the Connecticut Department of Education, schools may be one of the contributing factors to the increase of childhood obesity.

Food rewards such as candy are commonly given to children in classrooms for good behavior or grades. Unfortunately, rewarding children with food for their efforts can result in major consequences, including obesity in early childhood and adulthood.

Rewarding children with food in the classroom also compromises classroom learning. While being fed unhealthy food, children can learn unhealthy eating habits, which can later contribute to poor health and the overconsumption of unhealthy foods.

University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Obesity & Food Policy Director Marlene Schwartz said, “Rewarding children with unhealthy foods in school undermines our efforts to teach them about good nutrition.  It’s like teaching children a lesson on the importance of not smoking, and then handing out ashtrays and lighters to the kids who did the best job listening.”

Considering that obesity in American children is quickly increasing, there are many ways that obesity can be prevented at home and school. Reducing food rewards or providing alternatives can significantly impact these growing numbers.