Why Healthy Eating Laws in Schools Don’t Work



The late great Dale Carnegie wrote:

There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything … Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it.

It’s a shame that policy makers and school administrators don’t seem to have read any of Carnegie’s work because had they absorbed the quote above, perhaps they may have come up with something better to offer students.

People think that school represents the perfect place to undo parenting errors. They think that by bringing in a new school rule or program, that children will be set for life. Some of the rules and regulations in a school near you include:

– Anti-bullying programs

– Sex Ed programs

– Junk Food policies

– Playground no hugging rules

– Toilet rules

– Drug programs

– Anti-gambling programs.


And it goes on and on ….


Is this really a bad thing? What’s wrong with scrapping junk food from school?

Of course nothing is wrong with instilling healthy eating habits, teaching children about what constitutes bullying and how important it is to avoid drugs.  But to be successful you’re going to need more than a worthy cause.

The problem with schools taking on these issues is that schools already have a stigma for most children. Whether we like to admit it or not, most kids hate school and they hate what they are taught at school. So whether it’s a math or science lesson or its a discussion about the dangers or excess sugar consumption, the chances of breaking through are difficult. It requires a positive and creative approach.

And let’s face it, the programs eluded to above often look and feel like schoolwork. They often consist of worksheets and paired activities and feature mini-quizzes. Why do the people who put together these programs think that if they put an animal mascot on the front of the pack and crossword on page five that kids will warm to the content? No child has ever been fooled by such a gimmick.

And inflexible rules are worse. Sure, it’s not ideal for kids to be eating chips or popcorn at school, but taking away their treats is yet another way of reinforcing the stigma that schools are overbearing, ruthless and prison like. I just read that Brussels want to ban yogurts and cheese from school lunches. If I was a school kid in Brussels I would want to go home and douse myself in cheese just out of spite!

It is such a breath of fresh air when a great anti-bullying initiative or healthy eating idea surfaces. One that captures the students’ imagination and encourages rather than bans, nurtures rather than smothers.

If you want children to listen they must want to listen. Don’t shove draconian rules and anti-bullying packs down their throats. Give them something that doesn’t look or feel like school work.


Click on the link to read You Can’t Have Your Lunch and Eat it Too

Click on the link to read How Many Teachers Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? (Part 1)

Click on the link to read Girl Faces Expulsion for Being a Victim of Bullying

Click on the link to read Cancer Sufferer Claims she was Banned from Daughter’s School Because of her “Smell”

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Why Healthy Eating Laws in Schools Don’t Work”

  1. samkbell Says:

    Agreed! It’s like the old maxim of getting kids to read by banning books; a rule contravening something will only work to make it more appealing!

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    It goes much deeper than that. Consider a man in a primitive village making a canoe. There is a boy from the village who keeps hanging around, day after day. Finally the penny drops and the man says to the boy, “Would you like to learn how to make canoes? Here, watch, follow me.”

    “If you want children to listen they must want to listen. Don’t shove draconian rules and anti-bullying packs down their throats. Give them something that doesn’t look or feel like school work.”

    So much of what is called education today is nothing more than shoving junk down children’s throats. Why do teachers do it? Because their superiors do it to them. This is not education.

    Have you ever watched a goose feeding? It’s fossicking about here and there in the grass and in the water; in it’s environment, looking for sustenance. When it finds something edible it very soon takes it into its bill and swallows it. Have you ever watched a goose being force fed? Somebody puts a funnel in the bird’s beak and pushes in as much fattening food as possible in order for it to develop a fatty liver. Finally the bird is killed so its liver can be made into pâté.

    I hated school. Not all my peers felt the same way. I found it restrictive and when I developed an interest in something I was prevented from pursuing it in the classroom because of the strictures of the syllabus. I had to find out more for myself.

    The problem with school is that it is standardised. There is a cartoon being circulated on the internet depicting a classroom with all the children sitting at their desks with caps on their heads with tubes, evidently filling their heads with knowledge. At the window is a small child looking out at the birds, the trees and the sky. The teacher says, “Come away from the window, dear, you don’t want to be a child left behind, do you?” The child replies, “It seems good to me.”

    When people talk about raising standards, what do they mean? Usually they mean that children should be given more advanced learning sooner. I can think of no better way of lowering standards because increasingly children are given material beyond their cognitive capacity to deal with and are being set up to fail. In their early years children are given easily digested food and as they grow and develop more complex foods are added. What we are in danger of doing in education is giving children too much cognitively indigestible material and not enough time to digest it properly so that at some point there is a huge epidemic of cognitive indigestion, at which point we begin to see increasing disengagement and dropping out. Am I wrong?

    Humans do not come in standard shapes and sizes, neither are they standardised in the natural, cognitive realm. Is it any wonder that children hate school?

    And by the way; the approach to children’s eating habits seems to mimic the current approach to learning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: