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Brownback sets weight-loss challenge; not a fan of new school lunch standards


Gov. Sam Brownback today kicked off a statewide weight-loss challenge aimed at instilling healthy habits, but he criticized new federal school lunch standards that provide healthier meals.

Gov. Sam Brownback and KDHE Secretary Robert Moser on Tuesday talk about the Governor's Weight Loss Challenge during a news conference.

Gov. Sam Brownback and KDHE Secretary Robert Moser on Tuesday talk about the Governor's Weight Loss Challenge during a news conference. by Scott Rothschild

Brownback wants Kansans to organize into five-person teams to see which team can lose the largest percentage of weight.

Brownback intends to pick four members of his Cabinet to his squad.

"My hope is that the Governor's Weight Loss Challenge will encourage everyone to work together to make our state healthier," Brownback said at a news conference.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser, a physician, and also the State Health Officer, said the obesity rate has doubled among Kansas adults from 15 percent to 30.1 percent between 1995 and 2010.

"Together, poor nutrition and physical inactivity is now considered the No. 2 preventable cause of death, behind tobacco use," Moser said.

Obesity is associated with congestive heart failure, diabetes and cancer, he said.

The governor's challenge will award monetary prizes — the amounts have not yet been determined — to teams comprised of state employees. Brownback also urged non-state employees to take up the challenge.

A web-based tool will be used to track the progress of each state employee team that joins the competition. Teams can start registering on Dec. 17 at www.weightloss.ks.gov.

On the issue of school lunches, Brownback said the goal of the lunch standards was "laudable," but added, "It's a typical federal issue. It just doesn't fit all circumstances."

He said he has heard complaints from people that their children participate in school athletics and aren't getting enough calories with the lunches.

The standards, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, are designed to "raise a healthier generation of children," according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

According to the USDA, the changes that took effect this school year ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables each school day; increase whole grain foods; offer only fat-free or low-fat milk; limit calories based on the age of children being served; and increase focus on reducing saturated fats, trans fats and sodium.


beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

He wants to give away tax money to state employees who lose weight. What other bad habits does this "small-government" governor want to break people of by spending your tax dollars?

And what of those state employees already in good health not needing to lose weight? Are they not given the opportunity for extra income by staying physically fit? (If giving away tax dollars, shouldn't all state employees have a shot?) This seems like the worst kind of nanny-state incentive, only awarding (with your tax dollars) those who did not originally care for themselves.

A program like this should not be monetized. Can you imagine the uproar if this had come from a Democrat?

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 3 months ago

No kidding. Maybe they'll let all the people who've lost their jobs participate to make up for their lost income in the name of "smaller government."

April Fleming 5 years, 3 months ago

Um, state employees who are healthier actually SAVE YOU money, because their health insurance costs (which are taxpayer funded) go down. All state employees are eligible for this.

April Fleming 5 years, 3 months ago

I am NO fan of Brownback but this is basically no different than insurance companies offering incentives to quit smoking. It is effective, and ultimately a net benefit for everyone, as the more healthy behaviors that we all engage in, the less the insurance premiums will cost. Preventative health care measures are a cost-cutting measure that provide incentives to improve your life. These things work. Imagine - something the right and left can agree on.

dncinnanc 5 years, 3 months ago

I would think that student athletes especially wouldn't complain about lunches comprised of more whole grains, lean protein, and fruits/veggies as compared to the fat & salt laden gut bombs that our kids are typically served.

countrygirl 5 years, 3 months ago

They will when the entree sizes for the Jr High kids are the same size as what the grade school kids are getting. The kids simply aren't getting enough to eat. The sad part is that school lunch is the only decent meal some of the low income kids get--and now that's been cut back to hardly anything.

tomatogrower 5 years, 3 months ago

The can go back and eat as much fruit and vegetable as they want. They just want more junk food is all.

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe they can have all of the fruits and veggies they want, but a child's metabolism REQUIRES carbs, protein in copious amounts, and some lipids. There are no carbs, no fats, and the protien they get is absolutely negligible. You can fill your stomach with lettuce, but it will still "growl" with hunger.
The caloric requirements of a High School student are even greater. The metabolism is functioning at a much higher rate than that of an elementary school child, as they are growing at a rate that is only surpassed by that of an infant. Their bodies are also twice the size of an elementary school child, as they should be. They require around 2500 calories per day, with higher carb requirements and almost DOUBLE the protein requirements of an elementary school child. And, yes, they are getting the same portion sizes. So, no. It has NOTHING to do with junk food, unless you consider protein and the required amount of carbohydrates for a growing body that are also supposed to keep a brain functional for learning "junk food".

chootspa 5 years, 3 months ago

Not true. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/LAC_03-06-12.pdf The Jr High kids get slightly more meat and grains per meal than the grade school kids do.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 3 months ago

The school lunch program exists to reduce the incidence of malnutrition in children. It was not intended to be a convenience or an entitlement for everyone; it was intended to give even the poorest children at least one healthy meal per day. You may think a fat kid is getting adequate nutrition, but greasy pizza and chips don't cut it. I see no reason why we should subsidize junk food distribution.

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 3 months ago

Obese children are, most often, suffering from malnutrition. Raw vegetables are not expensive. Healthy proteins are.

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, beans are extremely nutritious and quite cheap. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber,antioxidants and other good stuff.

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

Athletes can purchase a second lunch. Or, heaven forfend, they can bring their lunch from home. The school lunch program was not intended to subsidize the school's extracurricular activities.

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

"championed by First Lady Michelle Obama"

I suspect that is the biggest problem with the new guidelines.

So, those who are already fit and at their optimum weight should become anorexic or they don't get a monetary reward? And those who aren't fit have to be rewarded with money? Talk about nanny state.

I wonder what is really behind this. Brownback has done nothing I can think of so far that didn't have some ulterior agenda. Notice the monetary reward hasn't been set. I have the feeling this is just another game of his.

oldexbeat 5 years, 3 months ago

the school lunch program was also put in place in the 1950s through the US Dept of Ag. to use up a lot of government cheese, and to spike the sales of milk, etc.

Like food stamps, the USDA makes sure with the school lunches that lots of farmers' products were used, and pushed the prices up. Oh, yup, and helped kids eat.

Michael LoBurgio 5 years, 3 months ago

Kansas not pursuing federal prevention dollars

Major federal initiative will bypass Kansas because no one applied for grant

The federal government is poised to start spending $900 million nationwide over the next five years in an effort to battle costly chronic ailments such as obesity and diabetes.

The initiative is considered the single largest push to date by the national government to encourage disease prevention. But Kansas likely won’t see a dollar of that money.

Why not? Well, one big reason is that no one here asked.

The July 15 deadline for submitting applications for the so-called Community Transformation Grants has come and gone.

The handful of Kansas officials who met the eligibility criteria for submitting proposals to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chose not to for reasons that have left some public health officials disappointed and baffled.

“I see it as a missed opportunity for the state of Kansas,” said Lougene Marsh, director of the health department in Johnson County, the state’s most populous county. “These large federal grants are not just things that come up frequently.”


deec 5 years, 3 months ago

"3. What are the nutritional requirements for school lunches? The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 directed USDA to update the NSLP’s meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new meal pattern goes into effect at the beginning of SY 2012-13, and increases the availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the school menu. New dietary specifications set specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Other meal enhancements include gradual reductions in the sodium content of the meals (sodium targets must be reached by SY 2014-15, SY 2017-18 and SY 2022-23). While school lunches must meet Federal meal requirements, decisions about what specific foods to serve and how they are prepared are made by local school food authorities."


Centerville 5 years, 3 months ago

Hum, I looked into back issues and the usual suspects didn't grouse when wide-load Michelle Obama started her ludicrous do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do eating guidelines.

asixbury 5 years, 3 months ago

How rude! She may be curvy, but wide-load is a bit much. She looks healthy. Besides, you don't have to be a certain size to be healthy. It's all about the fat-to-muscle ratio and how much excerise you get.

lunacydetector 5 years, 3 months ago

the new school lunches are smaller portioned, cost more money and when the kids get home they complain that they are starving and want dinner served at 4:00.

thanks Moochelle for forcing the children to diet when she needs the diet. hail victory for our lord and savior obama.

asixbury 5 years, 3 months ago

Give kids snacks when they come home. Lunch shouldn't last them until dinner without something in between to subsidize their appetite. Sounds like a lot of whining...parents need to take more responsibility for what their kids eat and send them to school with healthy snacks.

mom_of_three 5 years, 3 months ago

I have news for you. Kids have always come home from school wanting a snack or food. And Michelle obama has nothing to do with it. She doesn't need the diet. And she does eat healthy, but advocates occasional eating of favorite unhealthy foods, like most experts.

lunacydetector 5 years, 3 months ago

pure and utter b.s. .....as in moochelle, and yes, she's fat! as for eating healthy? have you read the menu for the whitehouse? do as i say, not as i do koolaid drinker.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 3 months ago

Heavens to Mergatroyd! Are some nasty dudes actually claiming that Michelle Obama is not healthy? That's bat guano crazy. You lose. Stop fattening up on your own absurdity.

oldexbeat 5 years, 3 months ago

is the election over ? Oh, yes. Emperor Mitt lost. Really lost. Now the losers are attacking vegtables. At least they are picking on things that think as much as they do. Grains. Yup.

handlon 5 years, 3 months ago

Healthier lunches cost more , so that is why Brownback is negative. Have you seen what processed crap our kids have eaten in school lunches in the past? No wonder there is an obesity problem in this country. Back in the day, at least lunches were more homemade and thus more wholesome. Recent lunches have been all frozen and pre made full of salt, fat and preservatives. At least today's lunches offer more fresh ingredients.

tomatogrower 5 years, 3 months ago

That could be why Brownback is against it. I'm sure he gets a lot of donations from the processed food conglomerates.

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