The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says the middle of an obesity epidemic is no time for New York school children to be taught that cheese is a health food:
Students in New York—many of whom are already overweight—may soon be taught that eating pizza is good for you. As part of New York's 2006 Ag Literacy Day on March 20, volunteers will read to New York state elementary children the book Extra Cheese Please!: Mozzarella's Journey from Cow to Pizza, which ends with a girl enjoying a slice of cheese pizza and includes a recipe for the fat-laden snack.
Given the nation's childhood obesity epidemic, this book is a surprising choice by New York Agriculture in the Classroom. Twenty-eight percent of New York adolescents were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight in 2004, according to the New York Department of Health. Cheese and other dairy products are principal sources of saturated fat and cholesterol.
The goal of Ag Literacy Day is to promote awareness and appreciation of New York state agriculture, and dairy products are New York's leading agricultural commodity. However, there are many other New York commodities worth promoting to the state's schoolchildren, including apples, grapes, melons, and butternut squash.