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Survey Finds Quality of Food Top Concern for Parents When It Comes to School Lunch

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Every day, school lunch programs across the country are focused on numbers-from limiting the number of calories, sodium and fat, to ensuring the right number of servings of fruits and vegetables per student per meal, to noting the number of food items being tossed away. Yet, according to a recent survey conducted by the Life Time Foundation, a private foundation created by Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life CompanySM (NYSE: LTM), what matters most to 1,079 health-minded parents is not quantity, but rather the quality of what their children are being served.

When it comes to school lunches, 75 percent of parents would like to see artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup and hormones and antibiotics removed from menus. In total, 83 percent say they would purchase school lunches more often if they knew the ingredients were all-natural. The survey also found that quality of ingredients outranked cost, taste preference, time and convenience factors when it came to choosing hot lunches for their children, with more than 72 percent of parents willing to pay more.

“As a nation we need to change the way we think about the food our children are eating,” says Life Time Foundation Registered Dietitian Laura Burbank. “We tend to focus too much on calories, protein and fat when reading and understanding ingredient lists can be just as important. We’re spending too much time looking at numbers instead of focusing on providing real, whole and healthy foods.”

On a daily basis, the average American diet-including what’s served in schools-contains the following seven harmful ingredients:

  • High fructose corn syrup: Linked to weight gain, digestive distress, increased levels of triglycerides and defects in insulin and lipid metabolism.
  • Artificial colors: Linked to causing hyperactivity in children as well as increasing the risk of tumors and allergy-like reactions in humans. The European Union requires warning labels on foods containing certain dyes, and some are banned in other countries.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Linked to causing weight gain, cancer, diabetes and digestive problems.
  • Artificial preservatives: Linked to hyperactivity, cancerous tumors, skin and eye irritation and asthmatic problems. BHA and BHT are banned in parts of the European Union and Japan, and the U.K. doesn’t allow BHA in infant foods.
  • Trans fats: Linked to raising LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol which could increase the risk of premature heart attacks.
  • Hormones and Antibiotics: Linked to overexposure and resistance to antibiotics, mistreatment of animals and cancer.
  • Bleached flour: Linked to causing diabetes. Potassium bromate, a common bleaching agent, is banned in the European Union, China, Canada and other countries. Azodicarbonamide is banned in Singapore, Australia and most European countries due to reports of it causing asthma.

The Life Time Foundation is on a mission to inspire healthy people and a healthy planet, by improving children’s nutrition one school lunch at a time. It has worked with more than 90 schools in Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio to remove seven harmful ingredients from their menus. To submit a school for the Life Time Foundation program, email schoollunch@lifetimefitness.com. For more information about the Life Time Foundation visit www.ltffoundation.org or www.facebook.com/lifetimefitnessfoundation.

Survey Methodology
The school lunch survey was conducted by the Life Time Foundation, a private operating foundation created by Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life CompanySM among 1,079 U.S. parents who are members of Life Time Fitness or Life Time Athletic destinations.

About the Life Time Foundation
As a private operating foundation created by Life Time Fitness, Inc. (NYSE:LTM) , the Life Time Foundation is about inspiring healthy people and a healthy planet one mission at a time. Currently, the Foundation is focused on improving children’s nutrition through education and the elimination of highly processed and unnatural ingredients from school lunch menus, ensuring every child has a healthy start in life. Unlike many other charitable organizations in which a portion of donations is consumed by administrative costs, 100% of every dollar donated to the Life Time Foundation directly supports its mission because all administrative costs are contributed by Life Time. For more information, visit ltffoundation.org.

About Life Time Fitness, Inc.
As The Healthy Way of Life Company, Life Time Fitness (NYSE:LTM) helps organizations, communities and individuals achieve their total health objectives, athletic aspirations and fitness goals by engaging in their areas of interest – or discovering new passions – both inside and outside of Life Time’s distinctive and large sports, professional fitness, family recreation and spa destinations, most of which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Company’s Healthy Way of Life approach enables customers to achieve this by providing the best programs, people and places of uncompromising quality and value. As of Nov. 11, 2014, the Company operated 113 centers under the LIFE TIME FITNESS(R) and LIFE TIME ATHLETIC(R) brands in the United States and Canada. Additional information about Life Time centers, programs and services is available at lifetimefitness.com.

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