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More Schools Banning Birthday Cake

October 06, 2008 01:55 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Some schools in Minnesota are attempting to curb misbehavior and improve nutrition by putting an end to the tradition of kids bringing birthday treats to class.

Celebration Consternation

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Celebrating a child’s birthday by bringing sweets to school is causing problems in Minnesota, and some school officials are trying to put an end to the matter.

Not every parent can afford to supply birthday treats for an entire class, which has led to behavioral issues with some kids. And with mounting health concerns such as obesity and food allergies, sugary snacks in schools are discouraged.

Despite this reasoning, the ban doesn’t sit well with all parents. “I kind of struggle with that because, come on, a birthday is a celebration,” one mother told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Worldwide, educators are taking a more proactive approach to encouraging healthy nutritional habits for their students. Some schools in Australia have also banned birthday parties in their classrooms. “The boys can always enjoy a birthday cake with family and friends outside of school time,” one school newsletter stated. A school administrator explained to The Sydney Morning Herald that such policies are more respectful to students with allergies.

Background: Schools and childhood obesity

Schools have increasingly become the focal point for helping to combat childhood obesity worldwide. A recent report indicates that 61 percent of school districts in Arkansas have implemented policies against allowing junk food to be sold in school vending machines. To track students’ health progress, numerous schools are measuring the Body Mass Index (BMI) of students.

A new government initiative in England aims to work with parents to help them address childhood obesity problems. As part of a new national measuring program, schools will record each student’s height and weight and send a letter to parents to notify them if their child has a weight problem. The country has changed its previous policy of only sending this type of information to parents if it was requested.

Amy Wehrfritz, a writer for the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, said her daughter’s school in England has taken to examining the contents of students’ lunch boxes to see what kids are eating for lunch. Those with healthy meals are praised and have their names placed in a drawing to win a fruit basket at the end of the month.

Wehrfritz said rewarding kids who have already made healthy choices “is a bit like preaching to the choir,” while scolding the other children “is bordering on harassment.”

Reference: Childhood obesity, nutrition resources

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