The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Junk Food Should Be Banned From Elementary, Middle, and High Schools

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/14/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,773 times Debate No: 49134
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




Junk Food Should Be Banned From Schools

In this debate, I would like to debate someone who does not think junk food should be banned from schools. My opponent, Con, will be debating the side that junk food should continue to be served in schools. I will start off with some rules:

  • 1. Proper spelling and grammar must be used at all time.

  • 2. All sources, if any, must be cited using correct MLA format.

  • 3. Arguments must be sophisticated and relevant.

    • Rounds:

      • Round 1: Acceptance only.

      • Round 2: Arguments only. No rebuttals.

      • Round 3: Rebuttals, any extra arguments, and conclusion.

      I look forward to this debate.



I would like to thank Pro for proffering this debate on a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of many students like myself. I will be happy to abide by his rules in this debate, though the MLA format seems a bit excessive. If he wishes that I abide by it, though, I will do so.

As my previous debate with jamccartney ended in a forfeit on his part, I will, however, attach another rule, so long as we agree that the rule should exist:

In the event of a forfeit, voters should provide a 7 point victory to the opposing debater.

I hope that is reasonable within this debate, as I feel it is generally acceptable that both of us finish writing and posting our arguments within the given 72 hour period. Other than that, with regards to the third rule, I would like to ensure that relevance is had on both sides of this debate, and as such, I will spend this round asking for clarification instead of just accepting. I hope that Pro will add this clarification either in his next post or in the comments section, as I feel it is relevant to both of our arguments.

1. Could you specify which schools this applies to? Does it apply at all levels of education? Does it apply to both public and private schools? (thanks to Kleptin for pointing these concerns out as well, as I would rather not win by utilizing their omission)

2. Does this apply solely to junk foods sold on school campuses, or does it also apply to any foods brought onto campus by both external parties and the students themselves? Much as you say that you're talking about serving junk food, I'm not certain if that is the sole focus of the debate from reading your R1 post.

3. On what level would such a ban be enforced? I'm mainly just concerned with whether you're presenting a single standard across the country, or different standards depending upon the state or locality.

4. How do you specifically define "junk food"? Does this solely apply to foods, or also to beverages? What falls under that definition and what doesn't will play a significant role in both of our arguments, so this is very important.

I eagerly await my opponent's response and the start of this debate.
Debate Round No. 1



I would like to thank Con for accepting this debate and choosing to debate such an intriguing topic with me. Next, I would like to say that I throughly agree with Con's forfeiting rule, and I can assure him that there will be no forfeiting by me in this debate.

After agreeing with my rules, Con went on to ask some questions about the topic. They are good questions, for they will make certain that both Con and I are talking about the same thing. I will now take the time to answer the questions:

  • 1. In Con's first question, he asked what schools this applies to. As stated in the titles of this debate, "Junk Food Should Be Banned From Elementary, Middle, and High Schools," this topic is talking about public and private elementary, middle and high schools, ages 4/5 - 18. It does not include colleges.

  • 2. Next, Con asked where the junk food in this situation would be coming from. He wants to know whether it is being served or being brought. To clarify, it is specifically being served by the cafeteria itself. It is not in any sense talking about the food the students bring.

  • 3. Then, Con wanted to know whether this ban would be country wide, state wide, or district wide. In my opinion, it should be country wide, so that is what this debate will be discussing.

  • 4. Finally, Con asked me to define the junk food that would be being banned. Allow me to clarify: This will apply to both foods and drinks. The foods will be food that is deep fried, contains an excessive amount of salt, fat, and grease, prepackaged food with a plethora of preservatives, and food without a healthy balance of nutrition necessities. Furthermore, the drinks would include drinks with excessive sugar and salt. There should be no sodas or energy drinks. If you have any more questions about this particular topic, please ask it in the comment section.

Now that Con's questions have been cleared up, I will continue on with my arguments.



According to, the United States has the highest obesity percentage, closely followed by Mexico, the UK, and Slovakia. Furthermore, according to, "[p]arents could soon begin to outlive their children because of an epidemic of obesity afflicting the younger generation." Then, the site said "[t]he impending health disaster is blamed on the rise of aggressively-marketed, fat-laden fast food and couch potato lifestyles."

Correlation between school lunches and obesity

Now that I have established the problem with obesity, I will start to talk about the link between school lunches and obesity. stated that "[s]tudents who participate in the school lunch program tend to be more obese in general, not because of the program itself but because they usually come from lower-income households where obesity is more of a problem."


Because I have debated whiteflame before, I have come to the conclusion that he will ask the question of "Shouldn't the students be able to choose?" My answer to that is this: Students have already been given the choice. They have already been given the choice between eating a salad or eating a greasy pizza. When allowed to choose, the students choose the unhealthy choice. Therefore, they must be taught. Now, would serving healthier food lead to better eating choices?


A study showed "that students consuming healthier meals were not more likely to seek other sources (such as vending machines or fast-food establishments) for less nutritional sweet or salty foods and/or sugary drinks." Getting people used to good, healthy food will cause them to choose it over the unhealthy choices.

Why should we care?

The study that showed that children are now more likely to have a shorter lifespan than their parents can have a huge economic problem. When more people suffer from heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the government will have to pay for more health care. Furthermore, when more people die, there are less taxes paid and less jobs created. Though this is a small percentage, it can be a large problem in the long run.


As is appears that I have stated all the necessary facts as to why junk food should not be served in school cafeterias, it is time for Con to lay out his evidence for why he believes it should not be banned.

MLA Citations

"Statistics for Health Obesity." NationMaster, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <;.

"Parents May Soon Outlive Obese Children." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 10 Sept. 2002. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. <;.

"Better School Lunches May Lead to Slimmer Students." Your Source for Reliable Health Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. <;.


I'd like to s tart by thanking my opponent for setting out a very reasonable, well thought out case in favor of the resolution, and for providing the information I requested. I view what he has provided as sufficient, and will therefore function on that basis.

As this round is meant solely to present my arguments and not to rebut my opponent's case, I will take the time to go through four key issues that I feel warrant a Con vote. They break down to the following issues:

1) Choices is good and necessary to achieve long-term goals
2) Targeting schools in this manner is an ineffective and, in fact, detrimental strategy
3) Restriction is sufficient and more effective

On a basic level, such a ban defies the concept of education. The large portion of our education system is ensuring that children are taught what is a good choice. Making the kind of across-the-board junk food ban as has been suggested here by Pro doesn't teach them anything, it simply removes a portion of their options. In essence, they're not implementing a healthy lifestyle, they're simply taking the only option offered on school grounds. That means that they're likely to internalize little to nothing from this. Schools are supposed to be imprinting societal values on these kids, but this is essentially meaningless in that regard. They take no lessons into their home life at all, and the behavioral changes that are so essential to long-term health simply don't result from altering available choices. In fact, no single approach appears to be effective in changing the way people eat.[1] Students spend more of their lives outside of school, where their diets aren't as tailored and is significantly more limited. Even within school, they are likely not to be affected, as they can always bring food of their own volition, and often do.[2] As such, there should be a focus on making the right choice instead of forcing the right choice, though I'll get into the impacts of that force shortly.

What's more, this masks the most central threats to student health. This sort of ban is sure to shove large costs onto a number of schools (if only just for tossing out current food sources and having to acquire the "healthier" options, which are also more expensive.[3] I'll spend some more time warranting the increased costs later, but they are certain to make the administration question where it's spending its money. That money has to come from somewhere. My argument is that it's likely to come from health courses and P.E., as they will feel that their renewed focus on health through the ban will be sufficient. The motivation to improve performance on standardized tests would also create incentive to place the costs in these camps.[4] That's a big mistake. The importance of health education in preventing risky behaviors and disease is well-established [5], as is that of physical education in both health and education [6].

Not only are they not learning anything from this ban, but any lessons they are garnering are wrong. Healthy food is about a balance of intake, garnering various resources from different food groups. Even the CDC says that we should eat comfort foods less often and in smaller amounts, but doesn't stipulate that we should not eat them at all.[7] I'll get into this more as I establish my case, but for now, the stance that healthy eating cannot, or even should not, include these foods just goes too far.

And speaking on the definitions provided, when we're discussing what is "excessive," "a plethora," "without a healthy balance of nutrition necessities," that's creates some problems, and Pro walks a very thin line here between denying a number of cheap, easily accessible sources of important vitamins and minerals (causing harms regarding the availability of those resources), and allowing much of the very same junk food he derides, thereby mitigating his own case.

On a deeper level, the process of forcing a decision upon these children is viewed as an assertion of authority on the part of their teachers and school administration, and this desire for rebellion is often defined by rejecting a piece of their identity that they have no control over. It's against being treated as a child, without any form of control over their lives. It's a measure of creating one's identity. The stronger the form of control, the stronger the impetus for the child to act out.[8] As a ban constitutes the strongest possible form of control, functioning as complete exclusion, it is likeliest to create this desire to rebel. How that rebellion plays out is uncertain, but generally, these students are likelier to rebel against authority in any given instance.

I'd just like to note that I'm not using this argument against all measures of authority. I recognize that school is full of authority figures, and that their actions require holding some authority over the students. However, I feel that this authority needs to be limited, and that bans and other such excessive actions should only be implemented in cases of necessity.

Going back to the cost structure, I think it's important to look at the broader implications of such a decision. As Pro specified, this is going to happen on a federal level. That's a problem. The American education system is designed to give local communities control over their schools through their school boards. While I can argue that this removes democratic choice, that is a relatively small loss compared to the impact of that reduced investment. Parents may rebel against it and try to upend the structure of the administration, but they aren't likely to be effective against a national system. The more likely result is that they're going to view their input as unimportant and reduce their contribution to their schools. That means far less involvement on their parts, and far less willingness to press their kids into providing assistance. These schools are going to lack for parents on the PTA, they're going to get less support in any sales or events meant to raise money or increase support. That means further harms to their bottom line.

These are just secondary problems. How about a primary one? Schools have often turned to soda and snack vending machines to increase their discretionary funds.[4] In order to get them, they have to be making some money. Whether Pro is getting rid of these directly or dramatically reducing their sales by this change in policy, the number of contracts made with food and beverage companies are likely to decrease. Again, demonstrably less money for the school.

However, as I agree with Pro that obesity is an issue worthy of tackling, I would also like to present my own case, rather than simply defend the status quo. I believe that restriction in terms of how much junk food is available to each student is sufficient to reduce obesity as a result of school foods. As such, these would still be present in school cafeterias, but at a lower level, and access to them would be significantly reduced. This would be especially true of subsidized meals, which would only allow the bare minimum access to these items in the cafeteria. Thus, those with the highest incidence of obesity would be addressed most heavily, and every student would be required to have healthier lunches from the cafeteria. The foods affected would be along similar lines to those presented by Pro, with those that represent fewer food groups being restricted most.

It is entirely reasonable to reduce the amount they can eat at school instead of completely removing these foods as an option. There is no massive food waste that results from this. Local communities can still modulate the amount made available to students who can pay, and there would be some ability to contest the foods available on a local level. It doesn't present with any major cost concerns, nor does it mask the issue, ensuring that health classes and P.E. continue to get funding. That's not to mention that providing some of these still allows a measure of choice on the part of the children, which keeps them active participants in their own nutritional health.

With that, I leave it to my opponent to rebut my arguments and my case, and to conclude his.

1. "No Single Approach Will Solve America's Obesity Epidemic." Christian Nordqvist. Medical News Today. Web. June 14, 2011. <;.

2. "A Federal Effort to Push Junk Food Out of School." Gardiner Harris. New York Times. Web. August 2, 2010. <;.

3. "New study confirms that eating healthy does indeed cost more." Kim Krisberg. The Pump Handle. ScienceBlogs. Web. Dec 13, 2013. <;.

4. "Reading, Writing and Raisinets: Are School Finances Contributing to Children"s Obesity?" Patricia M. Anderson. National Bureau of Economic Research. Web. March 2005. <;.

5. "Why Health Education Is Important." New Hampshire Department of Education. Web. 2012 ,;.

6. "The Importance of Physical Education." Charlotte Kelso. Virginia Education Association. Web. <;.

7. "Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. Dec 6, 2013. <;.

8. "Rebel with a Cause: Rebellion in Adolescence." Carl E. Pickhardt. Psychology Today. Sussex Directories, Inc. Web. December 6, 2009. <;.
Debate Round No. 2



Again, I wish to thank my opponent for giving me his arguments towards not banning junk food from school cafeterias. Because Con has given me a lot to refute, I will begin my rebuttals now.


Con begin by listing three issues with my stance. The first included the fact that students should be able to make their own choices. It seems I predicted Con's stance correctly, for I refuted this particular argument in round 2, when I said " I have come to the conclusion that he will ask the question of "Shouldn't the students be able to choose?"" I will repeat what I said, then add to it:

Students have already been given the chance to choose. They have already been given the choice between eating a salad or eating a greasy pizza. When allowed to choose, the students choose the unhealthy choice. Therefore, they must be taught. Studies have shown that students who generally eat healthier meals are not as likely to choose unhealthier foods when given the choice.

Not only that, but it seems that, according to New York Times, the government is already taking this effort. "Health education builds students' knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health." It is highly important that students get the education they need when it comes to health.

Con's next point spoke about this kind of ban would be ineffective. I beg to differ, for according to, "[h]ealth education curricula and instruction help students learn skills they will use to make healthy choices throughout their lifetime. Effective curricula result in positive changes in behavior that lower student risks." It is not ineffective because it teaches students these basic health rules that they should follow throughout life. Studies have shown that these tactics work.

Finally, Con points out that restriction is better. Possibly, it may be, but students should not be consuming any junk food. According to The Telegraph, students "achieve lower scores in tests after eating takeaway meals such as burgers and chips more than three times a week." This is a problem, because it means the students will not be receiving a proper education. "Researchers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee tracked the eating habits of children aged 10 and 11 - then compared it to performance in reading and maths tests." By doing this, "[t]hey found just over half of pupils had eaten at fast food restaurants such as McDonald's up to three times in the last week. One in 10 had eaten fast food between four and six times and two per cent visited restaurants four or more times daily."

That evidence shows that eating fast food does indeed effect the brains of students in a negative way. That shows that Banning, not restricting, can be advantageous for students. Why would we not ban junk food?

"I'd just like to note that I'm not using this argument against all measures of authority. I recognize that school is full of authority figures, and that their actions require holding some authority over the students. However, I feel that this authority needs to be limited, and that bans and other such excessive actions should only be implemented in cases of necessity."

I also feel that authority needs to be limited, as I understand that not all children are immature. However, I do want to point out that some things, like eating habits, need to be enforced. Nevertheless, students are still developing mentally, which means they are still learning many of the rights and wrongs of their actions. That is why they go to school - to be educated. Students cannot learn everything if they are given too many freedoms.


It seems this is my last argument. Once Con has given his rebuttals, this debate will be in the hands of the voters. However, I would like to say one thing before I end this argument: Throughout the duration of this debate, I have taken the stance of making sure that students go down a healthy path, while my opponent has been taking the stance of allowing the students to make unhealthy choices and die prematurely. Two words: Vote Pro.

MLA Citations

"A Federal Effort to Push Junk Food Out of School." Gardiner Harris. New York Times. Web. 16 March. 2014. <;.

"Parents May Soon Outlive Obese Children." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 10 Sept. 2002. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. <;.

"Why Health Education Is Important." New Hampshire Department of Education. Web. 16 March 2014. <;.

"Too Much Fast Food 'harms Children's Test Scores'" The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 22 May 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. <;.


I'll start by thanking my opponent for an intriguing debate. I appreciate his perspective greatly, as well as his arguments, and I feel that this has been a solid debate over the issues involved in schools affording students access to junk food.

That being said, I will use this final round to engage in some rebuttal of both Pro's R2 post, followed by analysis of his R3 rebuttal and conclusions, and then set down my conclusions and reasons why voters should afford me the win.

Before I launch into this, however, I'd like to quickly go through the citations of my opponent.

In R2, he provides 3 citations. The first is just a set of statistics on obesity, which doesn't really benefit his case. He has to prove that he's solving for obesity for this link to function into the impact calculus, and since my case also aims to reduce obesity, it is essentially just extra information and background. The same is true of his second link, which he provides again in R3 as his second link. This affords no benefit to him in this debate.

The third link is really the only one in this whole debate that supports his argument, and it doesn't do a good job of that either. Firstly, it specifically utilizes USDA dietary guidelines, which are separate from Pro's case. It's supporting a separate set of guidelines, which actually are more closely related to mine, since they still allow access to a "high carbohydrate and low fat" diet, which includes junk food, just in smaller amounts. In other words, it's not supportive of a ban, which is Pro's entire case. Secondly, it only applies to the National School Lunch Program, where students lack choice anyway. Therefore, the loss of choice in meal selection on school campuses isn't being evaluated.

In R3, we get 4 links. As I said, the second is rehashed. The third is my own link, and I'll get to his points here that over the course of my rebuttal. The first link, again, doesn't support his point. It's a dissimilar ban, focused on a few key pieces of junk food instead of a broad effort to remove all junk food. More importantly, it doesn't provide any actual support for the argument that Pro himself hasn't stated. This link actually hurts his case, as I'll describe in my rebuttal. The last link, again, doesn't support a ban. Getting a full meal of fast food 3 days a week is far in excess of what my own case would allow, and as such, we both garner the benefits to learning, though I will restate how Pro is harming learning among students.

Now, going into rebuttal. Pro starts his R2 by arguing that obesity is a problem.

We agree here. He says that there is a correlation between school lunches and obesity. I've put multiple responses here about how nutrition is actually most influenced by what children eat at home, that children will simply bring junk food to school, and that this correlation only exists between obesity and TOO MUCH junk food. Pro has provided no response to these points (his only response being that they don't seek vending machines or fast food on campus), so extend them. Look to my [1] where I show that no single approach will change the way these kids eat. Look at my [2], where I provided support for kids bringing junk food to school. These essentially mitigate his point that school lunches specifically influence behavior by themselves.

He talks about choices, "preempting" my argument, or at least so he says. But he's really ignored the majority of my points here. Extend my points about how removing any measure of choice removes their ability to make health decision for themselves, and how this will lead to a lack of internalization, meaning there will be 0 long-term benefit. Extend my [8], where I showed that control measures like this will make children act out and rebel, which impacts their learning as well as their diet. Pro's only response here is that enforcement needs to happen in order to teach students good eating habits, but he never states how a ban accomplishes this goal of education, something I've argued won't happen. Nor does Pro state a harm to my case, rather just saying that too many freedoms are problematic, something he never warrants. He has dropped these two points meaning that, at best, he gets some short-term benefit at more significant long-term cost.

Pro states that we should care because of the burden this places on society. I would contend that, while we should care about this burden, we should do as much as possible to minimize any possible fallout that results from the implementation of policies that aim to eradicate obesity.

So let's talk about that fallout. In this case, Pro is not only failing to respond, but he's actively biting the harms that I'm talking about.

Pro provides absolutely no response to the increased costs I present. Extend my [3], which talks about how healthier foods cost more to purchase. Considering all schools will have to stock up heavily on these healthier items after tossing out all the junk food, they will incur dramatically large costs. I'll get into what that means in a moment. Extend my point about the uncertainties in Pro's definitions, as I think these are likelier to lead to harsher bans, meaning that schools will have few, if any, cheap options for feeding their students the appropriate vitamins and minerals. This means that students will end up malnourished, or the schools themselves will pay far larger costs. Extend my point about less parental participation, and what that means for the education system in their district and for the schools' bottom lines. Extend my [4], which shows the importance of soda and snack vending machine contracts in their funds as well. Pro's first citation in R3 only makes this worse for him. "The administration has proposed spending $1 billion more each year on the $18 billion meals program, but the increase may not be enough to cover the extra costs." In other words, this program that is more minimalistic than Pro's requires far more than a billion dollars a year to cover the costs. That's not to mention that this link supports my point of choice being integral to their long term health.

So voters are buying every word of this. They're also buying the outcomes, which also go cold dropped. Extend my [4] again, which shows that the likeliest place that money will be taken from is health classes and P.E. Extend my point about masking, and how a ban creates incentive to spend less in other areas relating to student health.

In this case, Pro is actively supporting these impacts! Extend all of his own points (including the "Why Health Education Is Important" and "A Federal Effort to Push Junk Food Out of School" links), and all of the harms of this ban become apparent. Pro is right - "Health education builds on students' knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health." He doesn't seem to realize that by dropping my points, this becomes a major harm to his case, since health education completely disappears. Extend my [6], where I show the benefits of P.E. as well, revealing yet another harm to his case.

Lastly, going back onto my case, his only response here comes from this Telegraph point that students who eat too much junk food will do poorly. First off, this ignores the fact that any student can bring in food whether a ban or restriction exists or not. Second, my case solves for this by restricting access sufficiently to get it under that amount. Third, a ban actually would do worse for both health outcomes and learning outcomes. Most of the warrants for this I've described above, but I have another more extension. Extend my [7], where I show that even the CDC supports the consumption of small amounts of comfort food for health benefits.


So, how should voters decide this debate? Ask yourselves the following questions:

1) Will a ban on junk food in schools accomplish its intended goals with regards to health outcomes?
2) Will this ban avoid substantial harms as a result of its implementation?
3) Is a ban justified by comparison to enforced restrictions on the amount of junk food schoolchildren can have?

The answers to all of these questions is no. I've shown that even the health outcomes of the ban would be minimal at best. I've shown that the loss of funds, support, and the masking that results from this kind of policy would cause dramatic harms to students' educations and their health. Lastly, I've shown that the types of restrictions I've suggested will garner all the benefits of Pro's case without biting the harms I've presented. Pro's links do more to support my case than they do his, and I never see a single argument that supports an absolute ban, which is his whole case! There's simply no reason to justify voting Pro. Therefore, I urge a vote for Con.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Less important would be the notion that there are private schools that are not government funded. If you so choose, you can address that, but I find that it would still be easy for you to argue.

Remember, always practice safe resolving :D protect yourself from semantic trickery!
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Pro, please be careful. Colleges, Universities, Trade schools where students are over the age of 18 are considered schools.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Romanii 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Very good debate from both sides. I'm giving conduct to Con mostly because of a few snide remarks from Pro including "my opponent has been taking the stance of allowing the students to make unhealthy choices and die prematurely," which, while I'm sure wasn't meant to be condescending, was unnecessary. Arguments also go to Con because he successfully showed that it is much better to educate students to make good choices than to forcefully remove all junk food from the cafeteria, and, as Con showed, some of Pro's sources even favored that sort of health education program over a ban.
Vote Placed by WilliamsP 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: To begin with, I agreed with Pro since the start and continue to agree with him. Both debaters had great conduct and there were no issues whatsoever. Both candidates utilized proper spelling and grammar. I will give the "convincing arguments" points to Pro due to how the structured and formatted his arguments. I would have given the debaters a tie for that vote, but I then changed my mind. Both arguments were convincing due to the sheer length. Finally, I will give the "reliable sources" points to neither debater. Both used sources and cited them properly.

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