Eating too much fast food? Check.

Watching too much TV? Check.

Drinking too much soda? Check.

Health experts have long recognized these behaviors as risk factors for childhood obesity.  But now they're adding a new one to the list: eating school lunches. 

A recent study published in the American Heart Journal looked at the eating habits of more than 1,000 sixth-graders in several schools in southeastern Michigan. Researchers for the study found that those who regularly ate the school lunch were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who packed their own.

In contrast, researchers found that behaviors like spending two or more hours a day watching television or playing video games also increased the risk of obesity — but by only 19 percent. Eating school lunches? That raised the risk by 29 percent!

That says something about the quality of food that children are fed at schools, doesn't it? After speaking with my county's food services director for schools, I know that these administrators must walk a fine line between the foods they want to serve the kids (salads, fresh fruit, whole grains) and the foods they know the kids will eat (pizza, hot dogs and tater tots.)

But still, it seems that food service officials are erring on the side of junk food when a study confirms that eating school lunches — at least in Michigan — raises a child's risk for obesity.  

[via New York Times]