Not everyone has the luxury of being able to bring food from home for lunch at school. For those who don’t have the ability to do so, eating school lunch is a necessity.
While school lunches should be healthy for growing kids, schools provide their students with an abundance of unhealthy and junk food. Let’s look at some remarkable junk food in school statistics that will blow your mind.
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Top Junk Food in School Statistics
- Children who eat school lunches are 30% more likely to be obese than those that don’t.
- More than 30 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program annually.
- One in three high school students eats less than one serving of vegetables daily through the school lunch program.
- The two most common on the school lunch menu are cheese pizza and fried foods
- Two out of five elementary schools offer access to vending machines where students can buy soda and sugary drinks.
- Students who eat a school lunch in the United States are twice as likely to have two or fewer servings of fruit per day.
- Four out of five schools in the United States don’t meet the USDA standards in place for the fat composition in student lunches.
- The average child’s vegetable consumption comes mostly, 50%, from French fries.
- 20% of public high schools in the United States offer food from Taco Bell and other fast food restaurants.
- Between 2001 and 2009, public high schools in the United States spent over $150 million on spent-hen meat.
Children Who Eat School Lunches Are 30% More Likely To Be Obese Than Those That Don’t
Because children and parents don’t have control over what they eat when they choose to eat school lunches, so they tend to be heavier because of the junk or unhealthy foods the program serves.
Over 29 Million Students Participate in the National School Lunch Program Annually
The school lunch program is vital to providing food to students, and more than 29 million students use it to ensure they get a meal (sometimes their only real meal of the day).
One in Three High School Students Eat an Average of Less Than One Serving of Vegetables per Day Through the School Lunch Program
You’d expect school lunch programs to offer vegetables in their meals, but a third of high schoolers don’t even get one full service of veggies through the program due to junk food options.
The Two Most Common Items on the School Lunch Menu Are Cheese Pizza and Fried Foods
Everything is okay in moderation, but cheese pizza and fried foods, the most common items on the menu regularly, can contribute to unhealthy eating in students.
Two Out of Five Elementary Schools Offer Access To Vending Machines Where Students Can Buy Soda and Sugary Drinks
Kids as young as five can buy sugary drinks and soda whenever they have a chance in schools because they don’t offer healthier alternatives.
Students Who Eat a School Lunch in the United States Are Twice as Likely To Have Two or Fewer Servings of Fruit per Day
Many school lunches offer vegetable servings, but they don’t have many, if any, servings of fruit. Students who eat school lunches don’t get an adequate serving of fruit.
Four Out of Five Schools in the United States Don’t Meet the Usda Standards in Place for the Fat Composition in Student Lunches
Student lunches are supposed to have a minimal amount of fat composition, and 80% of schools don’t meet these standards and serve a lot of junk food.
The Average Child’s Vegetable Consumption Comes Mostly, 50%, From French Fries
Potatoes are vegetables, but they aren’t the healthiest options when prepared as French fries and fried in oil. Unfortunately, that’s the main vegetable often served in school lunches.
20% Of Public High Schools in the United States Offer Food From Taco Bell and Other Fast Food Restaurants
Ordering in bulk from major fast food chains is one-way public schools cut lunch costs, but it comes at the expense of healthier options.
Between 2001 and 2009, Public High Schools in the United States Spend Over $150 Million on Spent-Hen Meat
Spent-hen meat comes from chickens that can’t lay eggs anymore, and they often have a more rigid texture, are higher in collagen, and overall lower in quality.
61% Of Middle School Students Had Access to Foods High in Sugar and Salt in the School Cafeteria
Most school cafeterias over salt and have too much added sugar in their foods.
The National School Lunch Program’s Food Is One of the Leading Causes of Obesity in Children
Because they don’t offer healthy options and proper portions, obesity stems a lot from the school lunch program.
In the UK, They No Longer Serve Junk Food and Soda for Their School Lunch Program
To reduce obesity and health problems, the UK doesn’t serve soda and overly unhealthy food in schools.
Fried Foods Are Limited in School Lunches in France
France limits the amount and frequency of fried foods in their school lunch program.
61% Of Students Have Access to Fast Food and Junk Food Options in School
Some schools have healthy options, but they also offer fast food and junk food, which kids and teens tend to prefer despite not being good for them.
Kids Eat Between 35% And 40% Of Their Daily Calories at School
Kids eat around a third of their calories while at school, often junk food and sugary drinks.
67% Of Schools Have Advertisements for Junk Food
More than half of schools advertise their junk food, encouraging students to buy and eat it more often.
Eating Junk Food Leads To Lower Math and Reading Skills
Studies show that consuming junk food regularly while in school lowers students’ reading and math skills, making them underperform.
Schools Earn Over $1,000 From Their Vending Machine Sales
Schools use vending machines to rack in extra money while providing junk food to students.
Eating Junk Food at School Adds up to 300 More Calories to Students’ Diet per Day
Eating junk food can add hundreds of more calories to a kid’s diet, leading to health problems when they do it often.
97% Of High Schools Have Vending Machines With Junk Food and Soda
Some vending machines have healthy options, but the vast majority don’t. Almost all high schools have vending machines with junk food and not healthier alternatives.
71% Of Schools in the United States Are Trying To Make an Effort To Reduce Junk Food Offerings
The good news is that more than half of all schools in the US are trying to reduce how much junk food they’re offering kids.
Some Teachers Hand Out Fast-Food Coupons as Rewards
Teachers must do what they must do to motivate students, but handing out fast food coupons is common and not great for their health.
35.5% Of Eighth Graders in Schools With Junk Food Were Overweight
This statistic doesn’t account for all other students in other grades!
Eating Fast Food Two+ Times a Week Increases the Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes by 27%
When students eat fast food and junk food at school, simply being at school and eating increases their risk for health issues.
Ultra-Processed Foods Accounted For 65% Of Calories in School Meals in the UK
Junk food is over-processed; in the UK, over half of all calories offered are over-processed and not great for students.
Children in the UK Eat 16% More Ultra-Processed Food in Secondary School
Compared to other school levels, kids in the UK eat 16% more processed foods while in secondary school.
213 Million School-Aged Children Are Overweight
Since they eat almost 50% of their calories at school, junk food in schools contributes to this number.
42% Of School-Aged Kids in Low and Middle-Income Countries Consume Sugary Drinks at Least Once a Day
Studies show that those in low and middle-income areas consume a higher rate of junk food, so it’s unfortunately not surprising that almost 50% of kids in these areas drink one or more sugary drinks daily.
The Average Calorie Intake at Lunch for an Elementary Student Is 821 Calories
While many students in elementary school need between 1,800-2,200 a day, this might not seem bad, but when it’s all junk food, it’s not great.
70% of Obese Teenagers and Kids Stay Obese
Junk food in schools contributes to obesity, and many teenagers keep the weight on as they enter adulthood.
The Child Nutrition Act Supplies Breakfast and Lunch to Over 31 Million Students
This act is vital to providing food to kids, but it’s not always junk food free.
Between 2003 and 2005, 200 Pieces of Legislation Were Introduced To Establish Nutritional Standards in Schools
This includes limiting overly processed foods and adding more fruits and vegetables to school lunches.
Junk food ranges from fast foods to fried foods and everything with excessive amounts of sugar and fat. Nothing in our world is perfect, but the amount of junk food in schools is much higher than you might think. These 33 junk food in schools statistics will surely open your eyes, whether you’re in school or not.