Regulating Junk Foods in Schools Can Help Keep Kids Healthy – Part 2

Regulating Junk Foods in Schools Can Help Keep Kids Healthy – Part 2

This article discusses the results of the study conducted by Taber regarding the impact of strong and consistent food laws on the health of school children, the details of which were discussed in part 1.

Lower BMI with Strong Food Laws

Comparing the data collected over the 3-year period, it showed that the BMI of 5th grade students from schools with strong food laws is 0.25 units less on average than those from schools without strong food laws.

If translating 0.25 BMI units to pounds, it would be roughly 1.25 pounds less for a child who is 5 feet tall and weighing 100 pounds.

That value only reflected an average, which means there are students who gained more and others less.

Students who attended a school with strong implementation of food laws throughout the 3 year-study period saw a `gain in BMI that is 0.44 units less compared to students from schools without food laws. That means gaining 2.25 pounds less for a child who is 5 feet tall and weighing 100 pounds.

More States are Keen on Regulating Foods in School

There are currently more states that implement laws regulating foods that are sold in schools. In 1979, a federal law was passed that does not allow candy and gum for sale in the school cafeteria at lunchtime. There are more standard updates on the way that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working on to coincide with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

It is very important to implement the competitive food rules. Kids tend to eat much less of junk foods when they can’t buy them in school. This study by Taber’s team truly made an important mark in understanding the impact of food laws.

The research findings do not show a cause-and-effect. However, it highlighted the impact of state laws on issues like obesity.

Some groups in the food industry have expressed disagreement with such state laws stating the negative impact of competitive food laws on obesity. But this study proves otherwise.

Some groups like the American Beverage Association have taken voluntary steps to lower the calorie content of beverages that they offer in schools.

If a state does not have strong food laws, the parents can choose to get involved with their child’s school food program. Perhaps they can join the committee that takes charge of the school’s wellness policy.

Concerned parents can talk to the school administrator and make suggestions regarding the availability of healthier food alternatives in the school cafeteria.

Photo Credits: Ashish Joy via Flickr, CC by 2.0

Categories: Health