The Atkins diet -- predicated on substantially lowering one's intake of carbohydrates -- has finally reached the common, garden-variety, public school cafeteria. Typically, school cafeteria menus have been resilient to various nutritional fads, despite the pleading of various interest groups. School lunch menus themselves are the result of recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which still (at least for the time being) recommends six to 11 servings of breads and grains, a total which some low-carb diets (such as the Atkins version) might frown on. The issue came to a head this week as the annual American School Food Service Association conference convened in Indianapolis. Some dietitians, such as Dayle Hayes of Billings, Montana, warned against putting young people on low-carb diets. Hayes noted (as have other researchers and nutritionists) that the real culprit involved in the rise of obesity within American society is huge portions and a general lack of exercise. As conference attendees perused the various options provided at the annual conference, many of them noted that healthier foods were becoming a mainstay, such as fresh fruit, raisins, turkey and yogurt.The first link will take visitors to a well-written piece from CNN.com that discusses the effects (or lack thereof) that the Atkins diet has had to date on traditional lunch room menus and offerings. The second link leads to an eye-witness report on the annual conference proceedings from Sara Scavongelli of the Indianapolis Star, reporting from the Indiana Convention Center. The next link takes visitors to the homepage of the American School Food Service Association, where readers may peruse a series of news briefings on association activities, learn about advocacy programs for child nutrition, and other relevant topics. The fourth link leads to an insightful piece by Kelly Burgess, written for the site, Teenagers Today, that talks about the pitfalls of low-carb diets for young people. The fifth link leads to the Center for Disease Control's site on obesity trends throughout the United States. The site features a number of helpful reports and summaries, including one on the prevalence of overweight children and adolescents in the U.S. The final link leads to a valuable book excerpt from a recent work by Jim Karas on the psychological nature and aspects of weight loss, provided by ABC News.com.


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