According to the various posts my friends throw up on Facebook, we Americans are fat because
–we are too stupid to understand the concept of “nutrition”
–there is a conspiracy helmed by someone called Big Soda, who is an even larger, scarier bogeyman than Big Tobacco
–Corn has transplanted “love of money” as the actual Root Of All Evil
–We just have no willpower
But it wasn’t until today that I saw anyone mention one of what I believe to be the biggest problems with American nutritional conditioning: School lunches.
No, I’m not talking about the same old “Ketchup is not a vegetable” argument, because I think it’s a given that mass-produced low-cost food is not going to provide optimum nutrition until Soylent Green. I’m talking about the length of time that kids have to eat.
For twelve (or thirteen or fourteen) years, Americans educated in the school system–public, private or Christian–are trained to eat their food in twenty minutes or less. Lunch periods in schools range from 20-40minutes. The schools that have the longer lunch periods are generally high-schools, where book-gathering and travel time is built into the “lunch” span.
We know that brains take about 20 minutes to register the Full Signal from the stomach. But for the bulk of our developing lives, as we are establishing our life habits we are also training our bodies to eat as much as they can as fast as they can.
Maybe along with “Ketchup is Not A Vegetable” we ought to also start saying “a meal takes more than ten minutes to eat.”