Eat right: Young people need to absorb the message early

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Children have always resisted eating what's good for them. Even little ones who secretly love broccoli or bananas feel obliged to whine when vegetables and fruits are placed on the table.

Plum High School students followed a long tradition of nutrition resistance last week but they used that most modern of methods -- a Twitter campaign -- to speak their minds.

The student complaints were founded on economic principles: They didn't want to pay higher prices for meals that come in smaller portions.

The explanation for the changes is found in the federal school lunch program, which is moving away from high-fat, low-nutrient meals to those mandating fruit, low-fat milk and other healthy choices. It's not as if the lunches are completely lacking in the foods kids love: A sample menu from last week included favorites such as pizza and nachos.

Those items may not belong on a healthy plate, but if retaining them can be accomplished while cutting calories and adding vital nutrients, they serve a useful purpose in enticing young people to try the meals.

As for the protesters, they are encouraging classmates to "brown bag it." That could be a healthful solution if parents are less likely to load the lunch bag with junk food and more likely to provide a balanced meal.

Either way, the Plum School District youths and their peers in the region must start paying attention to how to eat healthy, nutritious meals if they are to save the nation from the spiraling costs and medical problems associated with obesity. Now eat your vegetables.

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