12.7 Million Kids Get Free Lunches While Obesity is an Epidemic

Michelle Obama is going around the country on an anti-obesity kick. She wants to bring physical education back to schools. It’s not just kids who are contributing to the obesity epidemic. “The National Institutes of Health awarded a Boston hospital more than $1.5 million to figure out why nearly three-quarters of lesbians are overweight — calling the disparities a significant public health issue. It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic, with nearly three-quarters of adult lesbians overweight or obese, compared to half of heterosexual women,” according to a description of the grant.”

It’s not just lesbians. We’ve been hearing for decades that childhood obesity is one of our nation’s biggest problems. Consider this report:

“The problem of childhood obesity in the United States has grown considerably in recent years. Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion. Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise.”

So while obesity is a national crisis, we are spending billions of dollars every year to fatten up school children. “According to new data from the USDA, during the average school month in fiscal year 2012, 18.7 million students in U.S. high schools and grammar schools were given completely free lunches. . .”

When the school lunch program first began in “1969, the average monthly number of schoolchildren getting free lunches was only 2.9 million.”

What does the cost of the program cost taxpayers? In 2012 it was $10.4 billion.

And then there’s the school breakfast program that feeds about 10 million students that costs $3.275 billion.

We could kill three birds with one stone. By cutting the school breakfast and lunch programs, we could (1) save $10.7 billion per year, (2) reduce childhood obesity, and (3) reduce the budget by more than $107 billion over ten years.

Of course, this doesn’t count the medical problems associated with childhood obesity:

  • increased risk of heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • breathing problems
  • trouble sleeping

This doesn’t count the financial costs. “Nationwide, it is estimated that annual costs for prescription drugs, emergency room treatment and outpatient services related to childhood obesity total more than $14 billion, with an additional $238 million in inpatient hospital costs.” That’s $142.38 billion over ten years.

Who says there’s no way to cut government spending?