DARIEN, Conn. With an estimated one-quarter of all kids ages 10 to 17 in Connecticut obese or overweight, Darien schools are working to make sure students have healthy options for lunch. The menus regularly feature organic fruits and vegetables, free-range chicken and meats, and salads twice a week."We appreciate the effort that Debbie Bossie, head of food services, is making to make all the lunches healthier and more appealing to the kids every year," said Tammie Sload, co-chair of the high school parents association."For example, this year at the elementary schools, she is introducing a new program for fourth- and fifth-graders with sandwiches using Boar's Head meats and whole grain pizzas and calzones. This is very appealing to the kids and provides a good healthy alternative to bringing from home."On average, American school children will eat more than 2,300 lunches in their primary and secondary educations. If they are opting into school lunch programs, much of their long-term nutrition is dictated by the choices the school district provides.Nationwide, 17 percent or 12.5 million children ages 2 to 19 years are obese, according to data from the National Health and Examination Survey. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines childhood obesity as having a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. The CDC regards a child as overweight if his or her BMI falls between the 85th and 95th percentiles.The National Conference of State Legislatures found that in 2007 found that 25.7 percent of children from age 10 to 17 in Connecticut qualified as overweight or obese. While this ranking is lower than many states, it still shakes out to more than a quarter of the state's children in fifth through 12th grades have a medically diagnosable weight problem.According to the CDC, overweight and obese kids are at increased risk of multiple health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fatty liver disease. And this is to say nothing of the potential psychological effects of being an overweight child. Additionally, the CDC finds that children who are overweight are more likely to become overweight or obese adults.Darien parents have the option of reviewing the school lunch menus every month on the Board of Education's website . Do you think that Darien schools are offering enough healthy options for students? Tell us in the comments below. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter . Click here to vote for your favorite Darien school in our Better Schools Bonanza.
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