Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UMass Amherst Food Scientist on School Meals Panel

The National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program should adopt a new set of nutrient targets and standards for menu planning, says a new expert report released today by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Yeonhwa Park, assistant professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was the only food scientist on the 15-member national Committee on Nutrition Standards for National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Committee members recommend targets and standards to limit sodium and maximum calories, and encourage children to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The recommendations would bring school meals in line with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Dietary Reference Intakes. The programs’ current nutrition standards and meal requirements are based on the 1995 dietary guidelines and the 1989 recommended dietary allowances.

UMass Amherst’s Park brought special expertise to the panel in two areas ¯ how to reduce sodium content and how to increase the amount of whole grains in foods in school breakfast and lunch in a form that students will accept and at an affordable price.

In the case of whole grains, research shows there is good acceptance among school-age children for certain grain products to contain up to 70 percent whole grain, she says. However, due to their limited availability and cost at present, the panel recommended that schools try to reach a target goal of at least 50 percent whole-grain-rich content in school lunches and breakfasts within three years of final requirements being adopted for school meals.

For sodium, the problem is that reducing it means foods taste different and are less likely to be accepted by children. Thus the panel recommended a stepwise reduction over the next 10 years, with a goal of an approximate 10 percent decrease for every two-year period. For example, recent data show that a typical high school lunch contains around 1,600 milligrams of sodium. The report recommends that lunches for high school students should eventually contain no more than 740 mg. The committee recognized that consumers are less likely to detect incremental changes, and it is unrealistic to expect food preparers to make rapid, dramatic changes and still produce meals children will eat.

Park says, “We hope industry will also respond and that students will accept substitutes. We thought the gradual reduction of sodium over ten years was reasonable and worth a try.”

For the first time, the committee also set maximum calorie levels. Lunches should not exceed 650 calories for students in grades K-five, 700 for children in grades 6–8, and 850 for those in grades 9–12. Breakfast calories should not exceed 500, 550 and 600 respectively for these grade groups.

According to the IOM, the National School Lunch Program is available in 99 percent of United States public schools and in 83 percent of private and public schools combined. The School Breakfast Program is available in 85 percent of public schools. About 30.6 million school children, 60 percent, participated daily in the school lunch program in fiscal year 2007, and 10.1 million children ate school breakfasts. Participating schools served about 5.1 billion lunches and 1.7 billion breakfasts that year.

As the report also acknowledges, implementing the recommendations will likely raise the costs of providing school meals ¯ particularly breakfasts ¯ mainly because of increased fruit, vegetables and whole-grain foods to be served. A combination of higher federal meal reimbursement, capital investment and additional money for training food service operators will be needed to make the necessary changes in school cafeterias.

The amount of vegetables offered should increase to 3/4 cup per day for grades K-eight, and 1 cup per day for grades nine-12. Schools should offer starchy vegetables such as potatoes less often and provide at least 1/2 cup each of green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, and legumes per week. Students should be provided 1 cup of 1 percent or nonfat milk at breakfast and at lunch each day. This will help lower calories.

The amount of meat or meat alternatives in lunches should be 2 ounces on most days for all grades, but schools should have the flexibility to provide greater amounts to students in higher grades. The amount of meat or meat alternatives in breakfasts should be 1 ounce per day for children in grades K-eight and 2 ounces on most days for high school students.

Schools that allow students to decline individual items rather than take a whole meal should require them to take at least one serving of fruits or vegetables at each meal. The meal programs currently have no such requirements. The amount of fruit offered in breakfasts should increase to 1 cup per day for all grades and in lunches should increase to 1 cup per day for students in grades nine-12. No more than half the fruit schools provide should be in the form of juice.

The IOM recommended nutrition standards for food and beverages available a la carte in school stores and vending machines, which compete with school meals, in a 2008 report, Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools.

Yeonhwa Park | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
22.03.2018 | Tufts University

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>