Hot dogs, pizza, and mac’n cheese on the chopping block?

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Sure, kids love hot dogs, pizza, and mac’n cheese, but, when it comes to school lunches, the United States can and should do better says a blistering report issued this week by the Institute of Medicine. The report says schools need to bump up servings of fruits and vegetables, swap refined grains with their whole cousins, and replace cartons of 2 percent milk with 1 percent or nonfat varieties. The report fingers several egregious lunch offenses, such as the fact that at the typical high school lunch comes loaded with roughly 1,600 milligrams of sodium. That’s three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt—more than half a teen’s daily allotment (2,300 mg). “The programs that nourish so many American schoolchildren need to reflect the latest child health and nutrition science given the extent to which dietary habits shape lifelong health,” says Virginia Stallings, MD, chair of the committee on nutrition standards for national school lunch and breakfast programs, and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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