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Fit Friday: Cafeteria cams measure kids' calories
May 13th, 2011
10:19 AM ET

Fit Friday: Cafeteria cams measure kids' calories

Kids often toss the apple from their lunch trays and dive straight into the cookies.

But, now cafeteria cameras can track what they’re really eating.

Health officials are using a $2 million federal grant to install cameras that will track eating habits at five San Antonio, Texas elementary schools.  The camera program will analyze the food on the trays for kids whose parents give permission. Parents can get reports about what their kids ate in school. The cameras will record what the students put on their lunch tray.  A computer program analyzes the food to calculate the amount of food and calories.  Then it will also take an image of the students’ trays when they are done – this will enable calculation of the nutrition that the children consumed.

"Let the picture tell us a thousand words about what they're eating,"  Dr. Roger Echon, who helped develop the initial computer program, told CNN affiliate KSAT.

This could help officials measure the nutrition children are getting to better develop programs to prevent obesity and diabetes, San Antonio school and health officials told KSAT.

Sound off below: Should we track what children eat to get a better sense of their overall nutrition, or is this nanny state gone amuck?


soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Sara

    Wait a minute.They're more than willing to spend 2 million dollars on a camera that will already states the obvious but they won't provide that extra money so that teachers all over San Antonio...hell all over texas.....won't lose their jobs?

    May 15, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jasie

      No wonder our country is broke. If I had a child in those schools, the government would not be taking his/her pics. I still believe in individual rights.

      May 16, 2011 at 07:42 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      But they could also use the information to figure out which healthy options are simply getting thrown away and need revamping. Just because healthy foods are offered doesn't mean they're getting eaten.

      June 12, 2011 at 03:54 | Report abuse |
  2. kate

    2 million dollars on camers, but can't invest in higher quality, healthful food?

    May 15, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stephanie

      Exactly. There are lots of healthy alternatives out there that they could employ with the money they are wasting on these cameras. Kids need an assortment of fruit to choose from, not just 1. Watch Jamie Oliver's specials on school menus-they are real eye openers and it gives you an idea as to how the food industry dictates Americas diet and the lies they tell us about real nutrition.

      May 16, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
  3. Ben

    It's a parents responsibility to watch what their kids are eating, not big brother, funded by the taxpayer. Also, it's only one meal out of the day. What a waste!

    May 15, 2011 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. ana

    BIG, TREMENDOUS waste of money! San Antonio would love to see this money used for better uses than on cameras to monitor calories consumed! I'd Love to have a conversation with the nimwits who approved this!

    May 15, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. DINKC

    This is one great example of of why I'm glad I homeschool.

    May 15, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ger

    This is wrong in so many ways. School officials choose to turn their backs on drop out rates, poor academic performance, gangs, bullying, drug use and a myriad of other problems teachers and parents struggle against every day to funnel money in accordance with the nanny-state mentality. School officials, apparently unable to address the issues cited above, have chosen an easier course, thanks to the largesse of the US taxpayer. I suggest another focus: teach the students, support the teachers, set aside politically-driven distractions from your worthy core mission.

    May 15, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Just Say No to WASPs

    America is number one! The government wastes money on crap like this and the citizens eat it up with a shovel. As we all know monitoring children during lunch will guarantee straights A's and perfect attendance. San Antonio..hmm....I guess they need a burrito count to ensure adequate caloric uptake. It sure is nice the American government forces its citizens to endure bullcrap like this. Greatest country in the world by reckon. 5% of the world's population with the highest incarceration rate of any country. Yup....number one all right.

    May 15, 2011 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. sharon

    Just remove the junk food and feed the kids healthy meals at school.... what a complete waste of money!!

    May 15, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Zeus

    hahaha
    dont eat too much fat@ss. Big Brother is watching.

    really though, once people get to college, they'll diet insanely because they realize that fat is really unattractive.

    May 15, 2011 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. tremoney

    I think we might as well give it a try. Spending 5 millon dollars in grant money to make sure your kids are healthy is nothing compared the 150 billon dollars that obesity cost is tax payer money. Not to mention the quakity of life that kids and adults have when they are obese.

    May 15, 2011 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jasie

      It is not the business of the government to take pics nor monitor my life or my family.

      May 16, 2011 at 07:44 | Report abuse |
  11. Katie

    Why don't the schools just cut the cookies and only serve healthful foods. Then they wouldn't have to worry about being held accountable for student obesity. Then they could write a 2 million dollar grant to buy books.

    May 16, 2011 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jasie

      What's wrong with cookies? I eat them all the time and I'm not fat. Actually, I'm very heatlhy. Cookies won't hurt you as long as you are eating your fruits and veggies and getting plenty of exercise.

      May 16, 2011 at 07:46 | Report abuse |
  12. leo

    since when did school need to be so high tech? since when did simple survance cameras cost 2 million dollars? for that amount of money you could have hired 100 nutritionist/personal trainers to monitor/coach these children on eating correctly.
    these schools..these parents all want to play the blame game when it comes to child obesity...noone wants to be seen as a bad parent for having a fat kid. Since when did being fat become a crime
    Since when did we need the "mommy" state to watch over us..do we really need "big sister" to govern what these kids eat or hell throw away. This sounds more like a program one would find in a socialist country.

    May 16, 2011 at 06:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. j

    Kids are kids. Of course they want to eat cookies, if the school has them. The school should be having more fruit, and healthier lunch meals. Instead of spending two million on cameras, they should spend two million on better lunches.

    May 16, 2011 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. HPNIII

    This is so stupid, kids aren't getting fat at school, it is all the after school burgers, and milkshakes.

    May 16, 2011 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jeff Price

    Typical. As a teacher, I know why kids are obese. They feed the kids fat laden foods that are upalatable at best and at least in the elementary grades, require them to eat it. Then they add so much crap to the school day in order to meet the "testing" standards, that they cut out all or most of the recess and physical activity. Just another govt attempt to justify giving away all of this free food and not requiring parents to be parents. I see it daily.

    May 16, 2011 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. tilly

    anyone also notice in this video that the kids throw the trays away?! what lesson are we teaching them there?

    May 16, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. AV

    As someone who is well versed in public health matters I think this is a waste of resources. We already know that kids arent eating well and are not exercising enough. Why would we need to record it to confirm AGAIN? We need to do something to rectify the situation not pay for studies to confirm this over and over again.

    May 16, 2011 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. MB

    Wow, I agree.....this is a waste of resources. It is not new news that children are not eating well in school. I have to say that I would not want to see what my child is eating while in school........if they didn't take their lunch from home, I already know that they will be consuming an unhealthy lunch. School lunches being unhealthy is NOT new news folks......
    This money would be more useful being put towards programs that would increase students activity. So many times I hear of schools having to eliminate sports because there isn't enough money! Why not invest the money in more activities for students to choose from during P.E. class? The schools I attended only offered the basic baseball, football, basketball and running for activity during P.E. class........and I went to school with SEVERAL kids that hated these sports with a passion. These kids today are obese, and I wonder if their lives would be different if they had other options to choose from. My neice told me the other day that her teacher has setup a WII Fit in her classroom, for kids to use when they are finished with homework. I want to give this teacher a pat on the back!! I know the Wii Fit doesn't exactly measure up to running a mile during P.E. class, but it atleast gives kids some type of physical activity.

    May 17, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Biomechanics_LT

    1. Obesity is not caused by excessive food intake.

    2. Weight gain/weight loss is not about calories.

    3. Weight loss is not about “burning calories”.

    The science of obesity is based on embarrassing misconception. Here is the link to the article “Misconception about Counting Calories and Weight Management” that explain more: http://www.biomechanicsandhealth.com/calories.htm

    May 21, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Rachel

    Do you know someone who goes to one of these San Antonio schools who would be willing to discuss their thoughts on the subject? We're a nationally recognized talk show that is interested in your opinion! Please call us at 323-956-3308.

    August 8, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.