Jon Green, a senior at Lincoln Lutheran, feels as if he is in a race against time as he rushes through school lunches. When the bell rings at Lincoln Lutheran for lunchtime Jon does not see sleepy, slumped over kids shuffling out of the doors of the classrooms. Instead, he sees kids running in a chaotic frenzy to the lunch line trying to get their trays first to have the most time to scarf down their meals. Currently at Lincoln Lutheran, students receive a 20-minute period to eat lunch bracketed by two 5-minute passing periods. The main issue behind this already short, limited time to eat lies in the fact that the older high school students appear to always be stuck in the back of the lunch line. They wait for a small window to do the necessary human function of eating.
Scientist have proven that rushing the consumption food holds direct correlation to over eating translating to obesity. Satiety is defined as “the quality or state of being fed or gratified to or beyond capacity”. In other words, satiety is the technical term for the “full feeling” individuals get after a meal. The article by Ann MacDonald, published in the Harvard Health Letter, explains that the entire process of digestion “involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system.” If eating is rushed, the chemicals released by the intestine do not have enough time to send the signals to the brain that you have reach satiety or in other words, are full. Ultimately, what is at stake here is overeating.
When our body cannot recognize that it is full due to the chemicals not fully having time to communicate, humans continue to eat. This results in eating way more than is necessary. A multitude of sources agree that at minimum, it takes 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety. If someone rushes through eating, their satiety may not register until they have already begun overeating instead of alerting the body when it is truly full.
Obesity now affects one in five children in the U.S. carrying with it lasting physical and psychological health affects as kids mature into adulthood. In the article ” Health Consequences Of Obesity In Youth “, Obesity in as having a body mass index greater than 95th percentile of other kids the same age and gender. Conventional wisdom has it that obesity carries negative health effects physically on the body giving a larger chance for cardiovascular diseases, which carries into adulthood eventually playing a role in the overall decrease of life expectancy. While most Americans are aware of the physical effects of obesity, many forget the psychological effects present as well.
Kids who grow up obese tend to develop a “negative self image that persists into adulthood”. Ultimately what is at stake here is the general health of America and more directly the students at Lincoln Lutheran.
At Lincoln Lutheran, I see three possible solutions to combating the issue of short lunches and allowing an extension to our lunchtime. The first and debatably most logical is decreasing the time of passing periods from five minutes to four minutes. It is wrong that students spend more time walking in the hallways (25minutes, 5 minutes x 5 times a day) than time given to eat the lunch that is supposed to fuel kids through the day. With 59% of students in the classroom three to four minutes before the bell, I believe a deduction of one minute off of passing periods will go unnoticed and would potentially add 5 minutes to the lunch period.
Another solution to the inadequate lunch times would simply be to add five minutes onto the end of the school day, delaying the end of school from 3:15pm to 3:20pm. Although it is understandable that many students would not prefer to spend their time at school any longer than absolutely necessary, I believe an addition of five minutes will go unnoticed by the student body. It appears evident to me that kids remain at school socializing long after the dismissal bell at the end of the day. An extra five minutes will allow the traffic to diffuse from Trinity Elementary School and would go unnoticed by students at Lincoln Lutheran. Lastly I propose to deduct 5 minutes from AP/ and Chapel time but this option will understandably be the option least likely to be supported by the administrators at Lincoln Lutheran.
A real issue behind the dilemma of school lunches remains in the fact that we have been trained to eat at such a fast pace that it goes unnoticed. It was not until my senior year where I became discouraged at the time to eat because I was unable to go out to eat with friends even though I finally had received the opportunity to participate in “open lunch”. Here I became disappointed at my inability to drive anywhere except the nearby fast food joints given the small 25 minute window for lunch. Outside from seniors, the students may only notice the short lunches on the infamous “nacho day” which leaves me personally as well as others shoveling in food as fast as possible. Students do not realize the severe adverse health effects taking place as the scarf down their food, gorging themselves in their small 25-minute window to eat.
By stuffing in more food than is necessary, rushed eating is in direct correlation with obesity in adolescences and adults. Lincoln Lutheran needs a longer lunchtime in order to promote a healthier lifestyle in its students and faculty as well as to establish mindful eating habits in students to carry with them for the rest of their lives. By more productively rearranging the time that students and faculty already spend at school, we could potentially eliminate an important ally to childhood obesity effecting one in five children in the United States and give students at Lincoln Lutheran a longer more satisfying lunch.
Brockhaus, Dylan, Green, Jon, Blum, Andrew. “How Do You Spend Your Time at School?” Survey. 14 March 2016.
Dietz, William H. “Health Consequences Of Obesity In Youth: Childhood..” Pediatrics 101.3 (1998): 518. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.
MacDonald, Ann. “Why Eating Slowly May Help You Feel Full Faster – Harvard Health Blog.” Harvard Health Blog RSS. Harvard Health, 19 Oct. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
“Mindful Eating.” Harvard Health Letter 36.4 (2011): 3. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.