Why American Kids Should Learn How to Eat the French Way

A recent Quartz article reports that in one big way, France is superior to America. The European country has a dramatically lower obesity rate than the U.S., and this, the Quartz story argues, is because French people teach their children to eat differently. Author Jenny Anderson studied the difference between French and American school lunches. “French kids are given time to eat hot, four-course meals that include a wide range of cheeses and artisanal breads while New York City public schools kids race through variations of starch with cheese with an ‘eat your colors’ campaign to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption,” she writes.

The French believe that teaching your kids to eat is as important as teaching your kids to read, and the children are actually tested on it. “Taste training is part of the national curriculum, and kids get tested in year four; they learn that science shows you need to try a new food many times before you like it. By the time kids get to school, stinky cheese is not going to scare anyone,” the article explains. French children are also often served vegetables before any other food because French parents think hungry kids will eat anything. While there have been positive changes made to the American school lunch system, greater change will require a shift in attitude—Americans need to think more like the French.

Learn about French children’s eating habits by reading Karen Le Billon’s book French Kids Eat Everything.

What do you think of the American school lunch system?