Regulating Junk Foods in Schools Can Help Keep Kids Healthy – Part 1

Regulating Junk Foods in Schools Can Help Keep Kids Healthy – Part 1

Why are Strict Food Laws in Schools Necessary?

Based on research, when states implement strict food laws, the kids residing in the area are able to stay healthy.

More students are able to maintain healthier weights when the state regulates the type of foods that are allowed for sale at school. The regulated food items do not refer to the meals in the school’s breakfast and lunch programs for the students.

The competitive food laws are meant to address the problem of childhood obesity. Foods sold a la carte from the cafeteria, those from vending machines and from fundraising projects in the school are all governed by these laws.

Not many have conducted studies to gauge how helpful these food laws are, so Dr. Daniel Taber from Chicago’s University of Illinois decided to conduct a study that was published in the Pediatrics journal.

His conclusion was — strong food laws do work.

According to Taber, there is a positive effect on weight reduction when the competitive food laws implemented in schools are strong and consistent.

The Impact on Childhood Obesity

With strong food laws, students gained less weight and were more likely to stop being obese or overweight in the long run compared to students residing in areas without such state laws.
In the past 30 years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw a 300 percent increase in childhood obesity cases. About 20 percent of kids who are 6 to 11 years old were obese as of 2008.

Forty states were included in this study and 11 of which had strong and consistent competitive food laws during the time period from 2003 to 2006.

Taber and his team considered the food laws as strong when they only allow schools to sell food products that specifically meet nutrition standards. The laws were considered weak when they only recommended healthy foods but did not require selling of these items. Some laws which were considered weak also include those that require “healthy foods” but did not qualify which foods are healthy.

The study had 6,300 student participants from 40 states. The researchers obtained essential information on their health and weight. They also measured the student’s body mass index or BMI, once when the students were in fifth grade and again when the students were in eighth grade.

Check out the results of this study in part 2 of this article.

Photo credits: Ashish Joy via Flickr, CC by 2.0

Categories: Health