Lufkin ISD officials doing their part to combat obesity epidemic - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Lufkin ISD officials doing their part to combat childhood obesity

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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

Cafeterias nationwide are healthier places after the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act went into effect this school year.

Lufkin health officials say the goal of the initiative is to combat the obesity epidemic in children.

"All the grains have to be whole grain at least half the time, and by this time next year, it will be more," Donna Middaugh, Lufkin ISD's director of student nutrition, said. "Fruits and vegetables used to be one food group and now it's two."

The new healthy lunch law comes with a new calorie cap. Middaugh says the school district uses planning analysis software and student taste testing to design meals that fit the law's requirements and satisfy student taste buds.

"The pizza we serve has whole grain crust, lower in fat, special sauce and some of them have reduced sodium sauce," Middaugh said.

Health officials say introducing students to healthier food earlier will reduce their risk for long term medical problems. Sarah Feye, a diabetic intern at Stephen F. Austin State University, said kids are now getting Type 2 diabetes, which was once an adult-onset disease.

"If they get it when they're 10, by the time they're 30, they're going to have a lot of damage," Feye said.

Officials say is takes about eight to 10 times of trying food to create a taste for it and once students exposed to healthy options it will become a habit.

"They won't even think about as they get older it will just be a part of their lifestyle as they become teenagers and young adults and as true adults they may be able to make these decisions for themselves," Marilyn Kegler, Lufkin ISD's director of health services, said.

Officials hope this healthy eating lesson will stick with students even after they graduate.

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