Posted on 29 Feb, 2012 by admin
As more studies and research is being released concerning the health of children and the role of schools, the Obama Administration is looking to establish new guidelines on food items sold in vending machines. Because students can eat up to 50 percent of their daily food at school, they want to ensure that what children are eating is healthy.
While no details on the new guidelines have been released, many believe that the guidelines will mirror the school lunch guidelines calling for reduced fat, sugars and salts in food. Those rules were implemented to help in the fight against childhood obesity, but were faced with fierce opposition from the food industry.
“I think the food and beverage industry is going to fight tooth and nail over these rules,” Nancy Huehnergarth, executive director of the New York State Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Alliance in Millwood, N.Y. said to The New York Times.
These rules may face the same opposition from not only the food industry but from schools as well. School officials are worried that by implementing guidelines over food sold outside of the cafeteria could affect fundraising efforts by clubs and extra-curricular programs. Many sports teams, music programs, and clubs rely on the sale of candy to raise money for their programs.
These new guidelines come just after a recent study by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that showed children in elementary schools have abundant access to junk food sold in vending machines, snack bars, school stores and a la carte lines.
According to the study, federal law bans small subsets of competitive foods like candy bars and sodas from being sold in the cafeteria during lunch time. However, many of those same products are available in other venues at the schools and are not regulated.
“Really, it’s a very weak regulation at this point,” Lindsey Turner, lead author of the study and a health psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago said to The Washington Post. “We’re at a time of transition and opportunity for these competitive foods.”
The study focused solely on foods not subsidized for school lunches. The researchers found that half of the students in 3,900 schools surveyed could buy foods in one or more venues during the 2009-2010 school year. Overall, nearly 45 percent of schools sold sugary and salty snacks.
It also showed that the availability of junk foods sold at schools follow regional patterns with schools in the south having more junk foods sold in schools than that of those in the west. The Obama Administration’s new proposals look to cover these same foods for every region.
“What we have is a fragmented system where some schools do a good job of limiting access to junk food and others don’t,” Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project said to The New York Times. “We need a national standard that ensures that all schools meet some minimum guidelines.”