U.S. Department of Agriculture ‘School Wellness’ guidelines

1 Mar

Moi has been following the school vending machine issue for a while. In Government is trying to control the vending machine choices of children, moi wrote:
The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. Ron Nixon reports in the New York Times article, New Guidelines Planned on School Vending Machines about the attempt to legislate healthier eating habits. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/us/politics/new-rules-planned-on-school-vending-machines.html?_r=1&hpw
There are studies about the effect of vending machine snacking and childhood obesity.

Katy Waldman wrote the Slate article, Do Vending Machines Affect Student Obesity?

Despite all the recent handwringing (even pearl clutching) over junk food in schools, a study out this month in the quarterly Sociology of Education found no link between student obesity rates and the school-wide sale of candy, chips, or sugary soda. The finding undermines efforts by policy makers to trim kids’ waistlines by banning snacks from the classroom. And it must taste odd to the many doctors and scientists who see vending machines as accessories in the childhood obesity epidemic.
The study followed 19,450 fifth graders of both sexes for four years. At the beginning, 59 percent of the students went to schools that sold “competitive foods”—that is, non-cafeteria fare not reimbursable through federal meal programs. CFs tend to have higher sugar or fat content and lower nutritional value (think the indulgences at the top of the food pyramid, like Coke and Oreos). By the time the students reached eighth grade, 86 percent of them attended schools that sold competitive foods. The researchers, led by Pennsylvania State University’s Jennifer Van Hook, then compared body mass indexes from the 19,450 students, including those who’d spent all four years in junk food-free environments, those who’d left such schools for vending machine-friendly ones, those who’d transferred from vending machine-friendly schools to junk food-free schools, and those who enjoyed access to vending machines for all four years. Regardless of which data sets they contrasted, the researchers were unable to find any sort of connection between obesity and the availability of “unhealthy” snacks in school. In other words, children who could theoretically grab a Snickers bar after class every day for four years were, on average, no heavier than those who couldn’t.
While Van Hook speculated to the New York Times that the findings reflect our tendency to “establish food preferences… early in life,” she also noted in her paper that middle schoolers’ regimented schedules could prevent them from doing much unsupervised eating. (I guess that means that the students didn’t have time to utilize the junk food options they had, which is an issue for another day). In any case, the takeaway is clear. You can’t solve childhood obesity by outlawing vending machines. The obesity epidemic (if it is one) depends on a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. Maybe a full-court press of school regulations plus zoning laws that encourage supermarkets to come to poor neighborhoods plus government subsidies for fruits and veggies plus crackdowns on fast food advertising plus fifty other adjustments would begin to make a dent in the problem. (Maybe a saner cultural attitude towards food, weight, and looks in general would also help). http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/01/24/junk_food_in_school_do_vending_machines_make_kids_fat_.html

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been studying the issue of snacks in schools.

Maria Godoy of NPR reported in the article, New Rules Would Curb How Kids Are Sold Junk Food At School:

If you want to teach kids to adopt healthier eating habits, it’s probably unwise to give them coupons for fast food chains at school.
And those advertisements for sugary sodas on the gymnasium scoreboard? Seems like another mixed message schools are sending kids.
That’s why the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed new school wellness guidelines Tuesday aimed at cracking down on the widespread marketing of less-than-nutritious foods to kids on campus during the school day. Even though 90 percent of school districts are now meeting the overhauled nutrition standards for school lunches, students are still being flooded with advertising for junk food in schools, according to first lady Michelle Obama.
“The idea here is simple: Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” said Obama, who joined USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce the guidelines. “Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school,” she added in a statement….
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of elementary-school kids receive coupons for fast food at school through programs such as Pizza Hut’s Book It! Program, which uses pizza as a reading incentive, according to a study published last month in JAMA Pediatrics.
The proposed rules would limit such exposure by allowing only ads and marketing in schools for foods that meet the Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition guidelines. Those standards, which are set to go in effect in the 2014-2015 school year, stem from the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. They aim to boost the healthfulness of foods sold through vending machines, snack bars and a la carte in cafeterias.
Under the stricter guidelines, vending machines branded with images of Coke or Pepsi’s sugar-sweetened sodas would no longer be allowed in schools. Same goes for branding for sugary drinks and snacks on posters and cups.
The snack rules set limits for how much fat, sugar and sodium snacks can contain. But they only apply during the school day. So foods sold at after-school games, for instance, are exempt.

Here is the press release from the USDA:

Team Nutrition
Local School Wellness Policy
Last Modified: 02/27/2014
Each local educational agency that participates in the National School Lunch Program or other federal Child Nutrition programs is required by federal law to establish a local school wellness policy for all schools under its jurisdiction.
Local wellness policies are an important tool for parents, local educational agencies (LEAs) and school districts in promoting student wellness, preventing and reducing childhood obesity, and providing assurance that school meal nutrition guidelines meet the minimum federal school meal standards.
Wellness Policy – Helpful Links
Proposed Rule

Requirements http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy-requirements

Technical Assistance

Local Process http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-process-how-develop-implement-and-evaluate-wellness-policy

Tools & Resources http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/implementation-tools-and-resources
Monitoring http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy-administrative-review-process

Funding a Wellness Policy

Congress recognizes that schools play a critical role in promoting student health, preventing childhood obesity, and combating problems associated with poor nutrition and physical inactivity. In 2004, Congress passed the Child Nutrition and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act (Sec. 204 of Public Law 108-205). This act required by law that all LEAs participating in the National School Lunch Program or other child nutrition programs create local school wellness policies by School Year 2006. The legislation places the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each LEA can be addressed.
In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Sec. 204 of Public Law 111-296), and added new provisions for local school wellness policies related to implementation, evaluation, and publicly reporting on progress of local school wellness policies.
On February 26, the proposed rule for wellness policies was published in the Federal Register. Read more about it and comment before the public comment period closes on April 28, 2014.
Implementation Timeline
 As of School Year 2006-2007, all districts were required to establish a local school wellness policy.
 For School Year 2013-2014, LEAs are encouraged to continue reviewing and assessing their local wellness policies and implementing the new requirements. State agencies will be selecting between two options for the Administrative Review, and LEAs will be held accountable for local school wellness policy implementation, assessment, and public updates.
This portion of our site will continue to be updated to reflect the requirements of the 2010 law.

The issue of childhood obesity is complicated and there are probably many factors. If a child’s family does not model healthy eating habits, it probably will be difficult to change the food preferences of the child. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


University of Illinois Chicago study: Laws reducing availability of snacks are decreasing childhood obesity https://drwilda.com/2012/08/13/university-of-illinois-chicago-study-laws-reducing-availability-of-snacks-are-decreasing-childhood-obesity/

New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools

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