Tag Archives: Do Vending Machines Affect Student Obesity?

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

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/government-is-trying-to-control-the-vending-machine-choices-of-children/
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.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/25/282507974/new-rules-would-curb-how-kids-are-sold-junk-food-at-school?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=share&utm_campaign=
https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-04100.pdf

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
http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/local-school-wellness-policy

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

Technical Assistance
http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy-workgroup-and-guidance

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

Background
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 ©

Related:

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
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

U.S.D.A. has new rules for snacks in school vending machines

7 Jul

Moi has been following the school vending machine issue for awhile. 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 have been 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

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/government-is-trying-to-control-the-vending-machine-choices-of-children/
See, Rising Childhood Obesity and Vending Machines http://www.medicaladvices.net/Child_Health/rising-childhood-obesity-and-vending-machines-a14.html
Nirvi Shah writes in the Education Week article, Rules for School Vending Machines, Snacks Unveiled:

Long-awaited rules that regulate the fat, salt, sugar, and calories in snacks and vending machine foods sold in schools were finally released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture today.
The rules take effect during the 2014-15 school year. Nutrition advocates have been pressing the USDA to issue the rules this month. Any later, and they wouldn’t have taken effect until the 2015-16 school year.
The new rules are the first update to school snack regulations since the 1970s. The existing rules only limited “foods of minimal nutritional value,” which didn’t keep candy bars, snack cakes, and sugary, vitamin-fortified sports drinks, from being regulated, said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Despite some high hopes for the rules, which come on the heels of strict rules for school lunches, they won’t completely wipe out sodas, chips, or sweets from schools. But they will make a dent.
“Millions of students currently have widespread access to snacks and beverages that are high in sugar, fat, and salt, but limited access to nutritious options such as fruits and vegetables in school stores, snack bars, and vending machines,” said Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. “With many students consuming up to half of their daily calories at school, these new standards represent the kind of positive change we need to help reduce obesity rates among children and teens.”
Many of the rules are adapted from those that were originally proposed by the agency, which received about 250,000 comments.
What happens if schools don’t comply? Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he hopes schools do, though there aren’t explicit penalties if they don’t, unlike rules for the school lunch and breakfast programs. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2013/06/rules_for_school_vending_machines_snacks_unveiled.html?intc=es

Here is the press release for the “Smart Snacks in Schools” rule:

News Release
 
Release No. 0134.13
Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

Printable version
Email this page

 
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights New “Smart Snacks in School” Standards; Will Ensure School Vending Machines, Snack Bars Include Healthy Choices

 
WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that under USDA’s new ” Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, America’s students will be offered healthier food options during the school day.
“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools — beyond the federally-supported meals programs. The “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, to be published this week in the Federal Register, reflect USDA’s thoughtful consideration and response to the nearly 250,000 comments received on the proposal earlier this year.
“Smart Snacks in School” carefully balances science-based nutrition guidelines with practical and flexible solutions to promote healthier eating on campus, drawing on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and existing voluntary standards already implemented by thousands of schools around the country, as well as healthy food and beverage offerings already available in the marketplace.
Highlights of the “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards include:
More of the foods we should encourage. Like the new school meals, the standards require healthier foods, more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein.
Less of the foods we should avoid. Food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need.
Targeted standards. Allowing variation by age group for factors such as portion size and caffeine content.
Flexibility for important traditions. Preserving the ability for parents to send their kids to school with homemade lunches or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations; and allowing schools to continue traditions like fundraisers and bake sales.
Ample time for implementation. Schools and food and beverage companies will have an entire school year to make the necessary changes, and USDA will offer training and technical assistance every step of the way.
Reasonable limitations on when and where the standards apply. Ensuring that standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at afterschool sporting events or other activities will not be subject to these requirements.
Flexibility for state and local communities. Allowing significant local and regional autonomy by only establishing minimum requirements for schools. States and schools that have stronger standards than what is being proposed will be able to maintain their own policies.
USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.
America’s students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
USDA’s MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
USDA launched a new $5 million Farm to School grant program in 2012 to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools.
USDA awarded $5.2 million in grants to provide training and technical assistance for child nutrition foodservice professionals and support stronger school nutrition education programs.
Collectively these policies and actions will help combat child hunger and obesity and improve the health and nutrition of the nation’s children; a top priority for the Obama Administration. The interim final rule announced today is an important component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to combat the challenge of childhood obesity.
#
Additional materials available:
High-resolution version info-graphic
Questions & Answers
TV Feature
Interim Final Rule
For more information on Smart Snacks in School, please visit http://www.usda.gov/healthierschoolday
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

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 ©

Related:
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 https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/
Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/
Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/
Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/
Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

University of Illinois Chicago study: Laws reducing availability of snacks are decreasing childhood obesity

13 Aug

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 have been 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

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/government-is-trying-to-control-the-vending-machine-choices-of-children/

See, Rising Childhood Obesity and Vending Machines http://www.medicaladvices.net/Child_Health/rising-childhood-obesity-and-vending-machines-a14.html

Sabrina Tavernise reports in the New York Times article, Study Links Healthier Weight in Children With Strict Laws on School Snacks:

Adolescents in states with strict laws regulating the sale of snacks and sugary drinks in public schools gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such laws, a new study has found.

The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, found a strong association between healthier weight and tough state laws regulating food in vending machines, snack bars and other venues that were not part of the regular school meal programs. Such snacks and drinks are known as competitive foods, because they compete with school breakfasts and lunches.

The conclusions are likely to further stoke the debate over what will help reduce obesity rates, which have been rising drastically in the United States since the 1980s. So far, very little has proved effective and rates have remained stubbornly high. About a fifth of American children are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public health experts have urged local and state governments to remove competitive foods from schools, and in recent years states have started to pass laws that restrict their sale, either banning them outright or setting limits on the amount of sugar, fat or calories they contain.

The study tracked weight changes for 6,300 students in 40 states between 2004 and 2007, following them from fifth to eighth grade. They used the results to compare weight change over time in states with no laws regulating such food against those in states with strong laws and those with weak laws.

Researchers used a legal database to analyze state laws. Strong laws were defined as those that set out detailed nutrition standards. Laws were weak if they merely offered recommendations about foods for sale, for example, saying they should be healthy but not providing specific guidelines.

The study stopped short of saying the stronger laws were directly responsible for the better outcomes. It concluded only that such outcomes tended to happen in states with stronger laws, but that the outcomes were not necessarily the result of those laws. However, researchers added that they controlled for a number of factors that would have influenced outcomes. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/health/research/study-links-healthy-weight-in-children-with-tough-snack-and-sugary-drinks-laws.html?adxnnl=1&hpw=&adxnnlx=1344831513-RqrlFbpz6Af4MAlHom/MHA

Here is the press release about the University of Illinois Chicago study:

Strong State Laws on School Snacks, Drinks May Help Prevent Weight Gain, New Study Finds

Date

08/13/2012

Children and teens in states with strong laws restricting the sale of unhealthy snack foods and beverages in school gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such policies, according to a study published by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Additionally, students who were overweight or obese in fifth grade were less likely to remain so by the time they reached eighth grade if they lived in a state with a strong law than if they lived in a state with no such law.

The study will be published in the September 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics. [LINK TO ABSTRACT]

To conduct the study, researchers examined state laws regarding what snack foods and beverages could be sold in schools outside of the federal school meals program. State laws requiring schools to only sell snacks that met specific nutrition standards were classified as “strong” policies. Policies were classified as “weak” if they merely recommended that schools make changes, or if they did not create specific nutritional guidelines, relying instead on general language about “healthy” foods.

Students exposed to strong snack food and beverage laws throughout the three years of the study had the smallest increases in body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight. Those who were exposed to weaker laws over time saw the same change in their BMIs as did students living in states with no policies at all.

Specific, consistent requirements about what types of snack foods and drinks can be sold at school seemed to have a direct impact on student weight,” said Daniel Taber, a researcher at the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy and lead author of the study. “This study definitely suggests that states can have an impact on student health when they enact effective school health policies.”

Taber conducted this research as a co-investigator with Bridging the Gap, a research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Many schools sell snacks and drinks in vending machines, school stores or cafeteria à la carte lines. These items are sometimes called “competitive foods” because they compete with school meals for students’ spending. In recent years, states have begun to pass laws that prohibit schools from selling certain foods or drinks, or those that set limits for the fat, salt, sugar or calorie content of items. For instance, schools have begun to replace unhealthy items, such as sodas and candy, with healthier choices, such as low-fat milks and fruit.

Despite state action, today there is only a very limited national standard for snack foods and beverages in schools. Passed in 1979, the standard prohibits schools from selling things like candy or gum in the cafeteria during lunch. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 enabled the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update the standard so that it aligns with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but the USDA has yet to do so.

This is the first longitudinal study to examine the impact of snack and drink policies on student weight using completely objective data. Similar past studies have used either self-reported height and weight, or interviews with school principals about policies, either of which could result in weaker evidence.

Taber and his colleagues at Bridging the Gap and the National Cancer Institute used several databases of state laws to analyze the strength of school snack policies. They scored each based on how specific it was and whether it required action from schools or merely made recommendations. To calculate student BMI, they used objective height and weight measurements from 6,300 students in 40 states. The measurements were done in the spring of 2004, when students were in fifth grade, and again in the spring of 2007, when they were in eighth grade.

Students exposed to strong laws in fifth grade gained an average of 0.25 fewer BMI units over three years than did students in states with no policies at all. That equates to roughly 1.25 fewer pounds for a child who was 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds. Students who lived in states with strong laws throughout the entire three-year period gained an average of 0.44 fewer BMI units than those in states with no policies, or roughly 2.25 fewer pounds for a 5-foot-tall, 100-pound child.

It’s encouraging to see that strong state laws can help students maintain healthier weights,” said C. Tracy Orleans, PhD, senior scientist at RWJF. “However, because not all students live in states with effective policies, we need to make sure that we get a strong national policy in place.”

Taber and his colleagues note that the laws that were most effective were those that set strong standards at both the elementary- and middle-school levels. Currently, many states have stronger laws at the elementary level than at middle school. Ensuring that students have healthy school environments as they age is likely to be effective in helping them stay healthy, the authors concluded.

Read the abstract of the study, “Weight Status Among Adolescents in States That Govern Competitive Food Nutrition Content.”

The study was conducted as part of Bridging the Gap, a nationally recognized research program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and dedicated to improving the understanding of how policies and environmental factors affect diet, physical activity and obesity among youth, as well as youth tobacco use. It is a joint project of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Health Research and Policy and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Learn more about Bridging the Gap research at www.bridgingthegapresearch.org.

This news release, written by Patty Hall [phall@rwjf.org], was adapted with permission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J. For more information about the foundation, visit www.rwjf.org.

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 ©

Related:

Study: Fitter kids get better grades                         https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/study-fitter-kids-get-better-grades/

Report: Obesity is a public health issue https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/report-obesity-is-a-public-health-issue/

The Healthy Schools Coalition fights for school-based efforts to combat obesity                                                   https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/the-healthy-schools-coalition-fights-for-school-based-efforts-to-combat-obesity/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Government is trying to control the vending machine choices of children

20 Feb

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:

The government’s attempt to reduce childhood obesity is moving from the school cafeteria to the vending machines.

The Obama administration is working on setting nutritional standards for foods that children can buy outside the cafeteria. With students eating 19 percent to 50 percent of their daily food at school, the administration says it wants to ensure that what they eat contributes to good health and smaller waistlines. The proposed rules are expected within the next few weeks.

Efforts to restrict the food that schoolchildren eat outside the lunchroom have long been controversial.

Representatives of the food and beverage industries argue that many of their products contribute to good nutrition and should not be banned. Schools say that overly restrictive rules, which could include banning the candy sold for school fund-raisers, risk the loss of substantial revenue that helps pay for sports, music and arts programs. A study by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that about $2.3 billion worth of snack foods and beverages are sold annually in schools nationwide.

Nutritionists say that school vending machines stocked with potato chips, cookies and sugary soft drinks contribute to childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in every five children are obese.

No details of the proposed guidelines have been released, but health advocates and snack food and soft drink industry representatives predict that the rules will be similar to those for the government’s school lunch program, which reduced amounts of sugar, salt and fat…..

But a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine released this month shows that despite industry efforts and those of others, snacking behavior among children remains largely unchanged. One reason is that healthier snacks were being offered alongside less nutritious offerings.

Between 2006 and 2010, the study found, about half of the schools had vending machines, stores and cafeterias that offered unhealthy foods.

The availability of high-fat foods in schools followed regional patterns. In the South, where rates of childhood obesity are the highest, less nutritious food was more prevalent. In the West, where childhood obesity rates are lower, high-fat food was not as common, the study found.

Health advocates say the study points to the need for national standards.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/us/politics/new-rules-planned-on-school-vending-machines.html?_r=1&hpw

There have been 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

See, Rising Childhood Obesity and Vending Machines http://www.medicaladvices.net/Child_Health/rising-childhood-obesity-and-vending-machines-a14.html

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 ©

Related:

New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©