September 23, 2019

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month — a time when those in the health sector raise public awareness of the consequences of and strategies for addressing childhood obesity. Anti-hunger advocates should be making some noise, too.

Obesity in childhood, including during adolescence, is tied to a number of negative physical, mental, and social outcomes, including diabetes, depression, and bullying. The consequences of obesity in childhood can have both short- and long-term impacts, as some outcomes manifest during childhood while others manifest later in life. 

According to the latest national figures, 18.5 percent of U.S. children are obese. Substantial disparities also exist based on race/ethnicity, gender, age, geographic region, and socioeconomic status. The data present a devastating snapshot of the state of childhood obesity. Fortunately, strategies exist for addressing childhood obesity, including strengthening and protecting access to federal nutrition programs, such as school meals.

The research is clear: school breakfast and school lunch play a powerful role in helping improve nutrition and combat childhood obesity. For example, based on national data, economists estimate that free or reduced-price school lunches reduce obesity rates by at least 17 percent. While school meals are key to keeping children healthy and thriving, the Trump administration wants to gut children’s access to nutritious meals served at school.

On July 24, the administration proposed a rule that would take away Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from over 3 million people and jeopardize more than 500,000 children’s access to free school meals. The move is bad policy, as it threatens to make children hungrier at home and at school, and reduces access to the good nutrition provided by school meals that support child health, learning, and well-being.

Anti-hunger advocates can fight to safeguard access to school meals and ensure that children lead healthy, happy lives by submitting a comment opposing the administration’s proposed rule by the September 23 submission deadline. An investment in healthier children is an investment in a healthier nation, so let’s all take time to stand up for school meals this National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

Raise your voice to protect access to school meals by submitting a comment against the administration’s proposed rule at

Click to Tweet: A proposed Trump admin. rule threatens 500K+ children’s access to free #SchoolMeals — keys to improving nutrition and combatting childhood obesity. Stand up for school meals this #NationalChildhoodObesityAwarenessMonth with @fractweets: #FRACChat