This Article is About
obesity rates
school lunch programs
obesity prevention
health psychologist
pediatric obesity
unhealthy snacks
food snacks
snack foods
childhood obesity
fruits and vegetables
vending machines
potato chips
major keys
Despite Obesity Rates Some Schools Are Still Selling Snack Foods: New Laws May Be Sought
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Despite Obesity Rates Some Schools Are Still Selling Snack Foods: New Laws May Be Sought

Childhood obesity rates, especially in the South remain a major concern. The US Department of Agriculture has recently announced changes to the school lunch programs aimed at addressing those concerns but surprisingly, a new study has revealed that over half of all US public and private schools were still selling snack foods in both vending machines and other places between 2006 and 2011. Lindsey Turner, a Health Psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the lead author of the study, found it "surprising" in light of all of the reports about obesity and prevention.

Turner's study focused on snack foods that were sold outside of set meal times such as breakfast and lunch. Those foods were not regulated by the government programs until recently. Chips, cookies and other junk food snacks were sold at the highest rates in the South which also have the highest rates of childhood obesity. Western states, which have the lower rates of obesity were less likely to have unhealthy snacks between meals.

In 2007, the Institute of Medicine issued a report that strongly suggested that snack foods not be offered for sale outside of regular meal times and that schools should make a better effort to provide healthier, nutritious snacks instead of the sweet, salty or fatty foods that are typically sold in vending machines. Some schools have started to sell fruits and vegetables as snacks but are often stocking them alongside potato chips and other snack foods, sending mixed messages to the children. Most experts agree that if given the choice between a bag of chips or an apple, the kids are going to buy the chips.

Dr. Thomas Robinson, a pediatrician with Stanford University called the study's results "sobering". As a pediatric obesity prevention researcher, Robinson believes that improved nutrition at schools is one of the major keys to reducing the number of children who are obese. Currently, the childhood obesity rate stands at twenty percent.

Many schools have banned soda and highly sugared juices from their buildings but may not be ready to eliminate other foods because they rely on the cash from those sales. Thanks to a new law passed in December, the USDA will be able to more closely regulate junk foods in schools. New policies are being discussed, with plans to set stricter nutritional values for all foods, including snacks that are sold in schools. School lunches are already being changed, with a new mandate calling for more whole grains, fruits and vegetables as well as lower sodium and fat. That policy went into effect last month.


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