Trans-fats tipscales marginally

There’s little worth defending when it comes to trans-fats, especially their place in taxpayer-funded school meals.

So a bill in the state Legislature to create the toughest-in-the-nation rules limiting trans-fats in school meals is sensible.

But it also amounts to nibbling at edges, so to speak, of our child obesity problem. It’s like ordering a diet soft drink to go with your super-size french fries and double-cheese-and-bacon burger at your favorite fast-food outlet. It ignores the larger culprits.

When it comes to the child-obesity epidemic that has struck Colorado and every other state, there are plenty of culprits: too many sugary foods and soft drinks, especially those containing high-fructose corn syrup; too many high-carbohydrate foods; too few fruits and vegetables, and far too little exercise.

For several years now, Colorado lawmakers have contemplated various pieces of legislation aimed at different parts of the obesity puzzle. These include bills — or ideas that didn’t make it to legislation — to place a special tax on sugary foods and limit their availability in schools, to eliminate vending machines in schools and to require a specific amount of daily exercise at every school.

All such ideas are well-meaning attempts to address parts of the obesity problem. But a more coordinated approach is needed.

The Legislature should establish an interim committee to consult with medical officials, dietary and fitness experts and school executives to develop a more wholistic approach to reducing childhood obesity. As that is being done, lawmakers must remain mindful of the considerable, costly and non-academic burdens we already place on our schools. Attacking childhood obesity is not an undertaking we should leave just to our schools, nor should it mean further starving schools of needed academic resources.

In the meantime, reducing trans-fats in school meals is one small step toward a healthier Colorado.


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