June 11, 2013

Effect Of Policies By School Districts, States On Items Sold Outside The School Meal Program

The association between district and state policies or legal requirements regarding competitive food and beverages (food and beverages sold outside the school meal program) and public elementary school availability of foods and beverages high in fats, sugars, or sodium was examined in a study Jamie F. Chriqui, Ph.D., M.H.S., and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Online First)

Survey respondents at 1,814 elementary schools (1,485 unique) in 957 districts in 45 states (food analysis) and 1,830 elementary schools (1,497 unique) in 962 districts and 45 states (beverage analysis) participated in the study during the school years 2008-2009 and 2010-2011.

According to the study results, sweets were 11.2 percent less available (32.3 percent versus 43.5 percent) when both the district and state limited sugar content, respectively. Regular-fat baked goods were less available when the state law limited fat content. Regular-fat ice cream was less available when any policy limited competitive food fat content. Sugar-sweetened beverages were 9.5 percent less available when prohibited by district policy (3.6 percent versus 13.1 percent). Higher-fat milks (2 percent or whole milk) were less available when prohibited by district policy or state law.

"Both district and state policies and/or laws have the potential to reduce in-school availability of high-sugar, high-fat foods and beverages. Given the need to reduce empty calories in children's diets, governmental policies at all levels may be an effective tool," the study concludes.


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