The Link Between School Lunches and Violent Behavior

By John Mac Ghlionn
John Mac Ghlionn
John Mac Ghlionn
John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation. His work has been published by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others.
February 2, 2023Updated: February 2, 2023


On a recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the comedian Bill Maher asked why physical assaults are so prevalent in the country’s public schools.

In recent years, tales of brutal attacks on students and teachers have become more frequent. In fact,  according to a survey carried out last year, 10 percent of K-12 teachers in the United States have been physically attacked by a student. That’s potentially 368,000 teachers. One-third of teachers, meanwhile, have experienced at least one incident of verbal or threatening violence. Maher was quick to point the finger of blame squarely at parents. Although parents must accept some of the responsibility for the actions of their children, there are many other factors at play.

Like nutrition, for instance. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued new clinical guidelines addressing the United States’ childhood obesity crisis. In addition to various weight-loss medications, the guidelines encourage medical practitioners to offer the option of surgery to obese children. Sadly, the guidelines fail to discuss school lunches, a major reason why so many children are so desperately unhealthy.

The United States is home to 70 million children. One in four of these children are now considered obese. Obese children tend to become obese adults. Dr. Jeremy Daigle, a leading pediatrician, recently said that a child’s physical shape at the age of 6 is a fair predictor of what their adult years will look like. Today, added Dr. Daigle, it has become normal for a child as young as 6 to be diagnosed with adult diseases (like Type 2 diabetes).

Which brings us back to school lunches. Thirty million children now rely on school lunches for sustenance. These nutritionless abominations play a significant role in children’s diets, as well as their behavior. The correlation between the foods we consume and the ways in which we behave is incredibly strong. Interestingly, the childhood obesity problem started in the 1980s. Around the very same time children started getting heavier and unhealthier, school lunches began to deteriorate in quality.

Of course, some will read this and think to themselves, “We already know that the country’s school lunches are abysmal. Tell us something we don’t know!” However, it’s important to realize just how atrociously bad the country’s school lunches really are. In September of last year, Moms Across America (MAA) published the findings of a rather disturbing study. The organization tested school lunch samples for heavy metals, glyphosate, pesticides, and various veterinary hormones. “95.3% of the school lunch items,” according to the report, “contained carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting, and liver disease-causing glyphosate.” The ingestion of glyphosate, a herbicide and crop desiccant, is directly associated with metabolic malfunction. Almost three-quarters of the food samples contained “at least one of 29 harmful pesticides.” Pesticide exposure has been linked to an increase in aggressive behavior, especially in children.

In nine school lunch samples, four veterinary drugs and hormones were found “at levels up to 130.76 ng/g.”

School lunches are also swimming in a sea of nasty plastic chemicals.

These chemicals have the power to change our brains. Children’s still-developing brains are particularly vulnerable. Substantial evidence links exposure to phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make plastics, with disruptive behaviors in children.

Moreover, as Grace Chen highlighted last year, not only are children frequently fed garbage like pizza and chicken nuggets at school, most of the meat consumed fails to meet even the lowliest of quality standards imposed by fast-food chains. As Chen noted: “No parent would feed their child meat only fit for pet food or compost, yet meat from ‘old birds’ is exactly what children are being served at school.” Even KFC, a fast food restaurant that has a reputation for selling large amounts of sodium-drenched chicken to the masses, refuses to purchase such meat.

This brings us back to Maher’s comments. Just like he was wrong to place all of the blame on parents for the increase in assaults, it would be highly disingenuous of me to place all of the blame on school lunches. However, as is clear to see, the food being served in many of the country’s schools isn’t helping create safe, hospitable environments. If anything, this poison is “helping” to create the very opposite. Studies show a clear link between poor nutrition and increased levels of antisocial and aggressive behavior. If good food is the foundation of genuine happiness, then isn’t it about time that the United States put a better foundation in place?

Of course, school lunches aren’t the only reason for violent behavior, but they’re certainly a part of this major problem.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.