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Talib Kweli Greene's picture

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"In order to receive, then we need to give
We gotta feed the kids, they gotta eat to live...
My rhymes got nutritional value
I get it how I live, it's critical when the conditions allow you."

(Editor's note: For complete music video, scroll to the bottom of this story.

I grew up in Crown Heights Brooklyn in the '80s. At that time, school meals left a lot to be desired. Crazy things happened like the Reagan Administration trying to categorize ketchup as a vegetable. My mom, like most mothers, knew better and protested that move, always fighting to make school meals as healthy as they could be. That struggle continues today.

While most people think of places like Mississippi and Louisiana when they hear the words "childhood obesity", nearly half of all New York City elementary schoolchildren are overweight. In fact, in New York City, 1 in 5 kindergarten children is obese. Parents and activists have been collaborating and working hard to make things better. Finally, this year the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has upgraded the nutritional guidelines for school meals. But, kids still have access to junk food through vending machines and snack lines.

Nearly 23 million children in the United State are overweight or obese, making them more susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes. This is a crisis that we need to tackle on all fronts.

In addition to raising awareness and teaching children and parents how to eat healthier, there must be restrictions made on the foods sold to kids in school. There is so much evidence that stronger nutritional regulations work. In a recent study, researchers found that school children who live in states that limit junk food gain lass weight than peers in states without any regulations. Some people balk at these regulations and say that children will just eat more junk as soon as they leave school. However, another study on the California junk food ban showed "there was no evidence that students were compensating for their limited access to junk food at school by eating more at home."

Let's do the research, inform ourselves and take action.

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