Young Journalists: Obesity soars — Oliver to the rescue

There’s an epidemic sweeping our nation that I feel many people try to avoid, ignore, or just complain about and not act upon.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, one in every three Americans is obese. In the United States in 2008, Washington had an obesity rate of 25.4 percent, not too far behind the highest, in West Virginia, with 31 percent, according to the CDC. Cowlitz County topped the chart for most obese county in Washington with a rate of 36 percent in 2007 according to the Washington DOH.

I am constantly hearing in the media how obesity is not the person’s fault, that it’s a disease. But the way I see it, it is a disease that, with hard work and devotion, can be overcome.

Chef Jamie Oliver agrees.

Lately, I’ve become almost devoted to his new television show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” The show follows Oliver, a British chef who is determined to change the diets and food routines of the American people by visiting schools and homes to teach how to prepare healthy meals and stay away from processed foods.

A major portion of the show involves Oliver visiting elementary, middle and high school cafeterias and attempting to change the menu from processed, junky food to healthy, fresh meals. Just like most of the American population, the lunch ladies and school supervisors seem afraid of change and don’t believe such a task can be accomplished.

After much fighting and hard work, Oliver wins the battle.

Personally, I choose to go home everyday for lunch and heat up last night’s leftovers or whip up a quesadilla. Recently, however, I decided to try our school cafeteria.

Overall, I was impressed with the cleanliness and serenity of the hall but was quickly reminded why I choose to eat my quesadillas. I saw the same problems that Jamie Oliver is facing on Food Revolution.

Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, burritos, French fries, cheese sticks — these are the choices students have. Each is loaded with fats of insane amounts of calories.

For beverages, students have the choice of white or chocolate milk. Flavored milk has been proven to have almost 100 calories more than soda. If a student wants water or juice, they are forced to pay extra.

I am not the only one shocked by the food served in the cafeteria. Kelsey McNeal, a junior, eats in the cafeteria almost everyday but brings her own lunch.

“I stopped eating (cafeteria meals) because the food may taste good but it is definitely not good for you,” McNeal said. “The salad is wilted and there is a lacking of variety.”

During my visit, I asked for the opinions of multiple cafeteria-eaters. The majority said that they wished for fresher, healthier food and more variety.

After doing some research on the show, I discovered a website,, that gives advice, recipes, menu planners, and tips to school principals and parents for improving the food served in your cafeteria.

We can stop this.

This Day
The Daily News Online

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