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Do School Lunches Plump Up Poor Kids?

Does the National School Lunch Program make children obese, or are obese children simply more likely to sign up for the program in the first place?

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Schools may be conflicted in wanting — and needing — to offer the items kids will buy. And most kids, untethered from the benevolent influence of the grownup who dishes out the lunch tray, will go for the a la carte ice cream sandwich over the plate of broccoli.

The answer may not be so simple as removing the a la carte tray.

“We need to think about how to make school lunches more healthy as well as profitable to schools,” Millimet said. “Health is important, but it’s only one issue that schools are dealing with. Before we go overboard one way or another, we have to think through the full ramifications.”

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