Lunch Menus in Schools Related to Risks for Diabetes

By Jacob Bailey, Ariel Stillwell, Shamsa Al-Salami

*** Our visual presentation with our pictures and table is located at https://prezi.com/kyx-volmunwj/health-diabetes/ ***

 

WHAT IS SOCIOLOGY? (Prezi 1)

Sociology is the systematic study of society and social interaction. It uses many different methods to study a wide range of subject matters (Openstax). This presentation will examine health and diabetes from a sociological perspective and relate it to the concern of health and diabetes in Omaha, with an emphasis on kids and school lunch menus. This analysis covers menus from two different school districts in Omaha where socioeconomics differ. As a whole, the analysis of this project will help us better understand the culture within our own city, concerning health and diabetes.

 

FACTORS (Prezi 2)

According to our textbook, there are studies that prove that diseases, like diabetes, are much more common in high-income countries (Openstax). With that said, we acknowledge that the United States is a high-income, developed country with the highest obesity rates. Specifically in Nebraska, the current childhood obesity rate is 14.3% based on low-income families (State of Obesity). The reasoning for such high obesity rates includes:

 

  1. Improvements in technology
  2. More processed foods and sweetened drinks are replacing home-produced goods
  3. Leisure activities are growing more sedentary (less outside activity and more screen time)
  4. More workers are switching from active work to sedentary jobs
  5. Increased access to transportation provides for more driving and less walking

 

OMAHA LUNCHES (Prezi 3 and 4)

In this project, we examined lunch menus from two different school districts within Omaha that hold different socioeconomic backgrounds. First, taking a look at the Millard District (West Omaha), they have many options to choose from. Among these are a pasta bar, pizza bar, a “market” bar, a “salsa bar”, a grill, a deli, as well as a different entrée under the “favorites” portion each day. Each day they also offer locally grown fruits and vegetables. Among these choices, there are healthy and unhealthy choices. However, the important factor is that if a student chooses to eat healthy, they are able to because this area in Omaha has the funding to provide that for them. They are also able to eat well with multiple different meal choices. The varieties in fruits and vegetables also allow students to get multiple essential vitamins and nutrients.

 

Taking a look at the menu offered at Omaha Public Schools (North Omaha), one can see a dramatic difference. The lunch menu items are lacking in protein contents, and are extremely high in carbohydrates. There is little nutritional balance in each meal. Also, the variety for fruits and vegetables is poor. Each day, the same chef salad is offered, and there is little to no indication of what fruits are offered. Students in this district simply do not have the resources to eat balanced meals at school.

In summation, there are three major themes that can be taken away from the differences in lunches that play factors in type II diabetes.

  1. Inner city kids have less lunch choices while at school, especially when it comes to balanced meals.
  2. Inner city kids’ lunches are dominated by starches.
  3. Inner city kids’ lunches have more processed foods.

 

SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS PLAYS A ROLE (Prezi 5)

According to American FactFinder, we discovered more factors that play a role in obesity and diabetes. A limited access to healthy food choices can lead to poor diets and higher levels of obesity and diabetes. In addition, limited access to affordable food choices can lead to higher levels of food insecurity, increasing the number of low and moderate-income families without access to enough food to sustain a healthy and active life.

 

It is hard to believe that the leadership in the Omaha Public Schools district just simply chooses to serve a menu that is less nutritional out of ignorance. One can look at the financial differences that exist in different demographic areas of Omaha. The Omaha Public Schools are located mostly in Central Omaha, while Millard is located in west Omaha. The table included in Prezi outlines average incomes in the two areas. With less financial support, one can conclude that the Omaha Public School district is hard pressed to budget a lunch diet with greater variety and greater quality.

 

Even though type 2 diabetes is more common in adults, type two diabetes increasing affects children as childhood obesity increases (Carrel). 1 in 3 kids born in the last decade will contract type 2 diabetes (Reilly). With less access to nutritional food for Omaha Public Schools, that puts each kid at a higher risk than those within Millard’s district. According to diabetes.org, a diet high in calories and sugars and carbohydrates increases the risk for onset type 2 diabetes. Based off of school lunch menus, the students in the Omaha Public Schools district are at a higher risk than the students in the Millard Public Schools district. Students in the Millard Public Schools district have an opportunity to diversify their diet and eat meals that have more protein and nutrients as opposed to being so carbohydrate heavy.

 

HOPE & SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

Although it seems like there is not much of an option for the kids who are at risk for obesity, because adequate nutrition cannot be provided at low income schools, there is some good news for them in Omaha. Children’s hospital offers a program called HEROES (Healthy Eating with Resources, Options, and Everyday Strategies). Children’s Hospital provides support, counseling, and gets kids active in a way that is healthy and boosts their confidence. A 2012 survey conducted by Children’s Hospital and Boys Town National Research Hospital found that 30 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years old in the Omaha metropolitan area were overweight or obese (Meyers). This is a problem, because these kids are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes by the time they are in their 20s. Omaha Magazine did a report on a 200 pound teenager, who went through HEROES and found that she lost weight and gained the confidence she needed.

 

From an interactionist’s perspective, when she began to lose weight and live healthier, she was no longer sick with obesity. She was able to live into her potential as a societal member because she gained the confidence to fulfill her role as a teenager and student. It is important to acknowledge this perspective as a sociologist, because it discusses the problem society has with people who are sick with type 2 diabetes, obesity, or other various health related issues. The problem is that people who are sick cannot fulfill their role as a member of society because they are sick. The solution is to come up with programs (like HEROES) that can allow members to have the chance to turn around, so they can be healthy and live into their potential.

TACKLING OBESITY

 

As a nation, there is also a series of steps that we can do together to battle this epidemic. It may not be as cut and dry as one may think either. The old adage “eat less, exercise more” seems to be the simple answer people like to refer to. This is true to an extent, however the answer is much more complex than that. America simply cannot out-exercise the obesity epidemic. For example, it would take a 110 pound child 75 minutes of bike riding to burn off the calories in one 20-ounce bottle of soda. Trying to simply burn more calories than the amount of calories consumed very difficult for anyone, especially children.

The answer lies in the types of foods that are prevalent in our diets, and the giant food companies that have a stronghold on the market. Kids are consuming large amounts of processed foods- cereals, fruit snacks, chips, granola bars, fruit juices. The majority of things found in a supermarket fall under this category. Just take a look at the ingredients lists- if it is a long, exhausting list, chances are it is processed with sugar. These types of foods that are loaded with sugar and lack in protein and fiber are what causes increased fat levels. When sugar is ingested without fiber, our body increases insulin production. This spike in insulin then turns the sugar into fat for storage. When paired with fiber, insulin levels are decreased, and the food is absorbed more for nutrients instead of being converted to fat.

The next question is then, why are these foods dominating our shelves and why do kids want them so badly? To start, one can look at advertising. Kids watch an average of 4000 food-related ads every year (10/day). These ads are always something that is sugar loaded or processed- a cereal paired with their favorite cartoon, fruit snacks paired with their favorite video game, etc. Very seldom do you see advertisements encouraging children to eat something healthy like a lean piece of chicken with vegetables. The reason kids see these ads because the companies that provide them (Kraft, Quaker, Coke, Pepsi, etc) have the most money to create and market ads. Their products are processed and therefore very cheap to make, and consequently sell for lower prices.

What can we do as a society to combat these issues and reverse the obesity trend in children? First off, we can change our consumer habits. People need to start making better choices when at the supermarket. Limit the sugary drinks, sugary cereals, etc. Eating real foods is a great place to start. This then can drive the prices of processed foods up, since their revenue will be decreasing. Almost 45 percent of overweight or obese children ages 10 to 17 are poor. If there is a reversal of the foods we buy and consequently the prices, more financially troubled families can afford to eat healthier. Next, consumers can shop and promote their local food markets. The options at these markets are exactly what kids need more of in their diet: fresh, fruits and vegetables that contain nutrients and fiber to combat poor diets. Consumers can also urge politicians to discontinue funding and working with large food companies creating these processed foods. With less funding, they will not be able to advertise as heavily and have less of an influence on our children.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, this presentation examined health and diabetes from a sociological perspective and related it to the concern of health and diabetes in Omaha, with a focus on children and school lunch menus. This analysis covers menus from different school districts, where socioeconomics differ. As a whole, the analysis of this project helped us to understand the risk that lower income schools, like Omaha Public Schools, have in regards to type 2 diabetes. These kids do not have the funding; therefore they do not have the access to healthy, balanced meals. However, there is hope, with programs like HEROES, that allow for children who are sick (obese, diabetic) to strengthen a society by achieving a healthy and balanced life.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

“American FactFinder – Community Facts.” American FactFinder – Community Facts. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

From this article, we can find information about factors that contribute to health. These include availability to exercise, affordability of healthy and nutritious diets, and an emphasis on an overall healthy lifestyle among different social groups.

 

Banjari, Ines, Snežana Bajraktarović-Labović, and Boris Huzjak. “Dietetic Approaches In Prevention And Treatment Of Cardiovascular Diseases.” Acta Medica Medianae 53.1 (2014): 65-72. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article discusses preventative measures aimed towards type 2 diabetes. This will be especially important for the second portion of our project. We will be analyzing schools and how well they provide food that prevents diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.

 

Basu, Sanjay. “Averting Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes In India Through Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxation: An Economic-Epidemiologic Modeling Study.” Plos Medicine 11.1 (2014): 1-13. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article analyzes one specific factor that is highly linked with type 2 diabetes.  Sugar-sweetened beverages are very prevalent in schools. This article is important to our project because we can use this information to analyze for the second portion of our project which deals with menus in schools. Perhaps some schools have made more strides to eliminate these than others.

 

Carrel, Aaron L. “GPS Suggests Low Physical Activity in Urban Hispanic School Children: A Proof of Concept Study.” International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology 2014.1 (2014): 12-24. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article is important because it suggests that urban environments can lead to an increased risk for the development of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. This would apply to our project because the Omaha Metropolitan area has urban places.

 

“CDC Works 24/7 to Protect US from Health, Safety and Security Threats.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 May 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This document is intended to provide up-to-date scientific data and statistics on diabetes and its burden in the United States.

 

Eriksen, Shelley J., and Beth Manke. “‘Because Being Fat Means Being Sick’: Children At Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes.” Sociological Inquiry 81.4 (2011): 549-569. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article analyzes different social factors that shape the lives of young children and how some can be attributed to type 2 diabetes.  We can read these relationships and see if they’re implemented in Omaha.

 

Vassiliki, Benetou, and Areti Lagiou. “Future Prospects And Current Evidence” Journal Of Chemoprevention Of Cancer.  F1000Research 2015, 916 (doi: 6684.1). Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This is a sociological research project done to point out the chemoprevention of cancer and diabetes. The information indicates early epigenetic outcomes and possible implications on genomic zygosity in type-2 diabetes.

 

Richard R. Rubin and Mark Peyrot Sociology of Health & Illness” . Academic Research (2007), no 29.  Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article examines sociology issues and their treatment among people with diabetes. The article contains  subclinical problems in living with diabetes. There is a lot of information that discuss treatment of sociology disorders in persons with diabetes, primarily depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. In describing everyday problems in living with diabetes.

 

Henderson, Julie, et al. “Social Barriers To Type 2 Diabetes Self-Management: The Role Of Capital.” Nursing Inquiry 21.4 (2014): 336-345. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This is a sociological research project done to point out the social barriers to type 2 diabetes self-management. This data suggests that access to capital is a barrier because they lack the social capital in the form of health networks that promote health. This is important to our project because it is one of the many reasons the rate of diabetes is so high.

 

Reilly, Rick. “The Fat Of The Land.” Sports Illustrated 99.11 (2003): 84. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article points out the problems of obesity in children. This is good for our project because it discusses how 1 in 3 kids born in 2000s will contract type 2 diabetes and potentially all the other illnesses that can come from that. We can use this information to support information for our second portion of the project – kids in schools in Omaha.

 

Rui, Li. “Economic Evaluation Of Combined Diet And Physical Activity Promotion Programs To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Among Persons At Increased Risk: A Systematic Review For The Community Preventive Services Task Force.” Annals Of Internal Medicine 163.6 (2015): 452-460. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article outlines some costs from diabetes. It also discusses potential programs and preventative measures against type 2 diabetes. This is a valuable article for our project because we can attempt to relate this information to schools in Omaha and see if some are better at this than others.

 

Schulz, Amy J. “Healthy Eating And Exercising To Reduce Diabetes: Exploring The Potential Of Social Determinants Of Health Frameworks Within The Context Of Community-Based Participatory Diabetes Prevention.” American Journal Of Public Health 95.4 (2005): 645-651. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This was a project done by sociologists to study diabetes management and healthy living in the context of community. This is a great article for our project because it provides so much information regarding type 2 diabetes within races and other social influences. It will be very useful when we are trying to understand what diabetes is and how it plays into sociology.

 

Sharma, Niharikaa. “Association of Low Educational Status with Microvascular Complications In Type 2 Diabetes: Jaipur Diabetes Registry-1.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism 19.5 (2015): 667-672. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

The title of this article is “Association of low educational status with microvascular complications in type 2 diabetes”.  I believe this article will be helpful to us in relating a sociological factor (low educational status) to continued problems in diabetes.  There are different areas of Omaha that could be modeled after this.

 

Sultana, Riffat, Taj Muhammad, and Rashid Mehmood. “Family History Of Diabetes And Awareness Of Risk Factors In Type 2 Diabetic Patients.” Gomal Journal of Medical Sciences 9.1 (2011): 65-69. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article holds a lot of information regarding type 2 diabetes and health. This would be great for our project because we can use it as a basis for much of the background regarding what this author calls “preventable” diabetes. We will be able to apply it to both parts of the project, whether we are discussing diabetes and health in general or applied into schools.

 

John Wiley and Sons. “Diabetes Nature, Nurture, and Culture” (2007): 998-1110. Academic Search complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

 

This article discuss the Diabetes and its complications account for a high proportion of avoidable morbidity and premature mortality in people. there is some data that discuss  early incidence of diabetes and its link with coronary heart disease may be partially.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

“American FactFinder – Community Facts.” American FactFinder – Community Facts. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

Carrel, Aaron L. “GPS Suggests Low Physical Activity in Urban Hispanic School Children: A Proof of Concept Study.” International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology 2014.1 (2014): 12-24. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

“CDC Works 24/7 to Protect US from Health, Safety and Security Threats.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 May 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

Meyers, Susan. “Fighting Childhood Obesity.” Omaha Magazine. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Reilly, Rick. “The Fat Of The Land.” Sports Illustrated 99.11 (2003): 84. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

“State of Obesity in Nebraska.” State of Obesity. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Openstax Sociology Textbook.