Elementary Schools Tracking How Many Pudding Cups the Kids Are Gulping with Calorie-Hunting CamerasS

American public schools are known for having some generally pretty terrible food. High in fat and sugar, low in most other things. This leads to childhood obesity. Not good. So some Texas cafeterias are taking a high-tech approach to health.

The $2 million trial system, implemented in San Antonio elementary schools, uses cameras to scan cafeteria tray barcodes that identify the contents of a student's meal: what they're eating, and how much. More french fries than green beans? The school will know it—and a whole lot more: over 100 nutritional attributes will be pulled from each tray, allowing the schools "to determine whether current programs that are aimed at preventing obesity work, and whether they are really changing students' behavior," explains a doctor behind the project. The more data schools have on what kids are eating, the easier it'll be to make healthy food that won't get tossed. At least, that's the hope. A $2 million camera system might sound hefty, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to (and a worthy investment against) the economic harm caused by epidemic obesity.

And no, there aren't any privacy concerns to be had here: students' faces won't be see, and they'll need parental permission to be included in the system. The only tin foil here is the one wrapped around the baked potatoes. [Reuters via Boing Boing]

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