Strict School Snack Laws Linked to Healthy Weight

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Strict School Snack Laws Linked to Healthy Weight A study published in Pediatrics indicates that strict laws regulating the presence of healthful foods in schools may be connected to healthier weight in children. The study explored the effect of strict laws that regulate so called “competitive” foods sold outside of the regular meal program -- foods and drinks in vending machines, school snack bars, etc.

Researchers tracked the weight of 6,300 students from 5th to 8th grade, monitoring any changes that occurred. Once the data was collected, the team compared the results in terms of the laws in each child’s home state. They ranked the competitive food laws as either strict, weak, or nonexistent. Strict laws addressed specifics about what was and was not healthful, while weak laws were quite general and often called for nonspecific measures to be taken.

The children in states with strict laws governing the sale of competitive foods gained less weight in that three-year period than children in states with weak to no competitive food laws. Furthermore, the study found that kids who were obese at the start of the study were more likely to reach a healthy weight by the end of the study -- if they lived in states with strict laws about what can and cannot be sold outside of the school meal program.

According to Daniel Taber, one of the authors of the study, “Competitive-food laws can have an effect on obesity rates if the laws are specific, required and consistent.”

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