As summer thoughts increasingly shift to school time thoughts for parents, one thing that remains a hot topic for parents is nutrition in schools. This week, study findings from the AAP Pediatric journal, as related at the Health Blog at the National Public Radio (NPR) website, found that regulations around snacks and vending machine items in schools do seem to be helping with the battle over childhood obesity. Daniel Taber, health policy expert and lead researcher from the University of Illinois at Chicago, looked at kids from 40 states between 2003 and 2006. He and his colleagues compared changes in body mass index and obesity status in children in eleven states with strict laws on food sold in schools with children from 29 states without strict laws.
They concluded that children who went to schools in states with detailed nutrition standards were less likely to remain overweight or obese than children who lived in states without such strong restrictions. Another finding of the study was that consistent standards were important. Students were less likely to gain unwanted weight when the strict standards of their elementary schools were reinforced in higher level grades. Additionally, it was found that the schools that fared the best had very specific guidelines for food sold in vending machines, a la carte in school cafeterias, and in campus stores, giving us all food for thought, or at least something to chew on. It is also important that parents remember that they can talk to their schools and school boards with concerns about food in their children’s school. The more school officials hear there is a concern the more likely school food will be improved and made more nutritious!