Public health reforms I'd like to see if the healthcare bill passes

I kind of sort of did this thread awhile back, but it got all messy and unfocused, and I’d like to try again now that UHC looks more like a reality than ever.

First of all, I’m 100% pro-UHC. My only complaint about this bill is that it doesn’t go far enough.

But at the same time, I think it’s time to start taking some more responsibility for our health, now that we’re all paying for it.

I’d like to see playground/P.E. be 5 days a week, at least an hour a day from K through 12.

When I was growing up, we had playground time from K - 4, then P.E. sort of whenever they got around to it from 5 - 8, and then half a year, 2 days a week of P.E. in high school. I don’t mean per year, I mean that was it, for all 4 years.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard things have gotten worse.

This needs to be turned around. Kids are inside playing video games and watching tv more than ever during those habit-forming years.

Some people will complain that P.E. teachers would single out the overweight and/or nerdy kids and bully them-- I never witnessed that, but in those cases when it does happen, those teachers need to be fired, and they would be these days. This is not the 1950s, or even the 1980s. A positive environment can be created wherein kids can get the physical exercise their bodies need.

Furthermore, the junk food has got to go from schools. No more fast food, Pizza Hut, and soda machines in schools. If parents want to send that crap to school with their kids, fine, I think it’s dumb, but it’s their right. But it should not be put out there as an option for children when deciding what they want for lunch. They’re going to choose the junk every. single. time.

These two things alone would make leaps and bounds towards reversing the obesity and early-onset diabetes epidemics that we’re seeing in this country, and that we all may very very soon be paying for. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I hate exercize, don’t eat right & was the same way when I was a kid. I agree with both your points.

I just found out this week, at age 48, that cooked cabbage can be DELICIOUS!
It wouldn’t have killed me to have found that out when I was in grade school. Granted, my parents probably didn’t know that back then either.

I don’t think mandated PE classes are the way to go, frankly. Mandate that schools must include plentiful playground space in their design, and must have morning and afternoon free play/break times when the kids can use it. Most kids will do something physical if given the chance, they don’t really need a teacher standing over them with a lesson plan.

I’m with you on the junk food though.

But who says this should be tied to health care? It’s just a good idea anyway.

I don’t think that changing things at schools will have a significant effect. Junk food can - and will - be brought in. Kids will even sell it to each other on those playgrounds of yours! And PE never made me physically fit. It’s easy to fall behind, and illegal for them to whip me to make me keep going after I drop, after all.

Basically you’re arguing to turn up the heat a little in a house with all the windows open and the snow blowing in - the influence of other factors (in this case, the home and other extra-school environments) will overwhelm the changes you propose to make.

OK, this is a problem the government can’t solve. But it can at least stop being part of the problem. If a government-run school is providing food to students (whether through free lunch programs, or for sale), then that food should be healthy. If students bring in unhealthy food on their own (presumably, with the cooperation or instigation of their parents), well there’s not much to be done about that, but we can do something about what’s served in the cafeteria.

And, of course, as FriarTed points out, just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean that it has to taste bad, either.


I wouldn’t mind seeing it tried both ways and stick with whichover one worked better. My gut feeling is that after 5th grade or so, kids would just stand around and talk for fearing of doing anything “uncool.” But I’d love to be proven wrong.

Well, I’m not saying it should be in the bill. Most (all?) schools are run below the federal level as far as I know. I’d just like to see school districts say “ok, we’re all in this together more than ever, let’s make a run at this public health thing.” If a few school districts did it and produced good results, I could see it spreading like wildfire. Again, gut feeling, but I bet exercise and healthier food would improve grades and test scores, which seem to be the sole obsession of public schools these days.

I don’t know how accurate it is, but I’ve heard it said that we feed our prisoners better than we feed our students.

Okay, but I think there’s little point in pretending this is going to improve general child health in any significant way. If our kids are flabby fatties, they’re not doing it on school lunches alone. Their meals and snacks at home will be unchanged and still too large and too junky.

Unless you think the problem is that kids are underfed and getting insufficient nutrients?

If nothing else, you might get someone like FriarTed who never knew that cabbage could taste good because he never had it prepared well at home, but who discovers it can and who therefore starts eating better once he leaves school and can choose his own diet. And maybe, when he has kids, he’ll feed them right in the first place.

I’ve eaten prison food, and I’ve eaten school cafeteria (and dorm) food. There isn’t a whole lot of difference, except that the prison food is often cooked by the inmates (and I think for that reason there was less prefab stuff).
(For the record, no, I haven’t served time; I used to go to prisons as part of my work responsibilities. They were mostly in semi-rural areas where it wasn’t easy just to pop out for lunch, and we weren’t allowed to bring anything non-work-related, like food, in from the outside.)