Smile, Kids! You’re On Candid Cafeteria Camera!

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Five San Antonio elementary school cafeterias are having high-tech cameras installed to photograph the lunch habits of children. Big Brother will then calculate how many calories each kid had. The program is funded by federal taxpayers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the cameras are so good that they can capture how much of an apple a kid has eaten.

Parents will be asked for permission and participating students will get lunch trays with unique bar codes. Cameras will take shots of the fully loaded lunch trays as well as the lunch trays once kids deposit them back. The difference will be calculated for caloric and nutritional content. Why are taxpayers spending $2 million on this pilot program? According to the Associated Press:

Researchers hope parents will change eating habits at home once they see what their kids are choosing in schools. The data also will be used to study what foods children are likely to choose and how much of if they’re eating.

The selected schools were chosen because the population is poor and mostly minority and diabetes risk is higher.

A bit to the north, a Republican legislator in Illinois came up with the idea to penalize parents whose children are overweight by taking away any state tax deduction they receive for being a parent. Poor families that are subsidized according to how many children they have would lose that subsidy.

Beyond the scariness of having the government monitoring children’s weigh or coming up with additional ways to intervene in people’s lives, it’s also worth noting that the U.S. government has a lot to do with the weight problems to begin with. For decades, the feds have been subsidizing corn and wheat, meaning processed products using these foods are cheaper than just basic whole foods. These foods have so much to do with insulin production and obesity.

And now they want the poor to bear the brunt of the fall out.

Apart from all that, parents do have a responsibility to provide proper nutrition to their children. This is a great idea for local nonprofits and parent-led groups to focus on. Perhaps they can start by looking at this study, released today: “Surge in obesity correlates with increased automobile usage.” Of course! So get those kids out of the car, let them roam the neighborhood without constant supervision, and have them help run some of your errands — on foot.