School food can be uninspiring (and even downright unhealthy).
I remember square cheese pizza slices during my days. No worries. The tomato sauce counts as a vegetable serving (based on government standards).
High schoolers devour hamburger and fries as a daily option and machines dispense sugary drinks and junk food.
The government-funded school food system promotes obesity (though there are signs of positive change occurring throughout the United States).
This begs the question – would it be healthier to home school?
A small study (Cardel et al 2013) compared home-schooled versus traditionally-schooled children in terms of diet, physical activity and adiposity (fatness).
The home-schooled children won big time.
They studied 7-12 year olds, 47 home-schooled children and 48 traditionally-schooled children. They examined their diet by history and physical activity with accelerometry (a fancier pedometer). They used DEXA scanning to measure their fatness (think bone mineral density, but software for fat measurement).
Traditionally-schooled children had significantly:
- Higher BMIs
- More fat mass
- More waistline fat
- More calories per day consumed (120 Kcal)
- Increased intake of trans fat
- Increased intake of sugar
- Less intake of fiber, fruits and vegetables
However, they had the same levels of physical activity.
This study is SUGGESTIVE of differences in diet and fatness in home-schooled children versus traditionally-schooled children, but not conclusive. I say suggestive, because of the small sample size in particular.
Also, even if the results are reproducible with larger studies, we do not know what CAUSED the outcomes.
Do parents who home school have more time, resources, and interest to prepare healthier foods? Does this account for the difference? We don’t know.
Is the school system an obesogenic environment? Again, we don’t know (at least not from this study).
Once again the research begs more questions than answers.
Any thoughts? Share them below.