Marion Nestle is a consumer activist, nutritionist, and academic who specializes in the politics of food and dietary choice. Nestle received her BA, PhD, and MPH from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1988, Nestle was appointed Chair of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health. She held that position until 2004, when she became the Paulette Goddard Professor in the same department.
Nestle is the author of numerous books, including "Food Politics," which explored the way corporations influence our nutritional choices, and "What to Eat," an survey of how to navigate the modern American supermarket. Aside from her books and teaching, Nestle writes a popular blog for the Atlantic Food Channel.
Question: Are school lunches promoting childhood obesity?
Marion Nestle: Yeah, school lunches are promoting childhood obesity, but in an indirect way. They set – whatever goes on in school sets an example for kids about what’s supposed to be. And if the kids are being fed chicken fingers and salty foods, and sweet things, and have a lot of sweet and salty snacks around that they’re eating, they think that’s appropriate. And that the school saying, this is what you’re supposed to be eating. And that’s why I think it’s so important to have school lunches that are healthy food, and I think there are schools that do. And they’re very impressive. Guess what, the kids eat it. And seem perfectly happy.
Question: What measures can we take to make school programs healthier?
Marion Nestle: Yeah, there are two things that have to happen. One is the government has to set rules for what kids can and cannot eat in schools so that the rules are in place. And then you need people in the schools who really care about wanting to do a good job of feeding kids and think it’s really important for kids to eat healthfully. In schools where that’s happening, the food is good, the kids are eating it, everybody’s happy.