The way schools determine what amount of meat, grains, vegetables and total calories each student should receive is by dividing them into three groups based on grade level — kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth grade through eighth grade, and ninth grade through 12th grade. Under the current rules, height and weight are never taken into consideration.
USDA said that while it faces challenges in providing nutrition based on height and weight, a child’s age was still one of the most important factors in determining their food requirements, a statement echoed by nutritional experts.
Healthy eating advocates say the new regulations will help fight childhood obesity, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say has doubled in the last 30 years - and tripled among teenagers.
Mrs. Obama recently visited a school in Alexandria, Va., to show off the final product of the school lunch revamping she helped crusade.
“That’s why as a mom myself, I am so excited that schools will now be offering healthier choices to students and reinforcing the work we do at home to help our kids stay healthy,” the first lady said.
The GAO said that many of the early problems are growing pains and will be resolved over time. Investigators noted many students had positive things to say about the greater number of vegetables and smaller portion sizes, and they expect that number to grow over time.