Gone are the days of deep fried chicken wings and french fries in the school cafeteria. Some administrators have even decided to sacrifice earning an extra dime by banning sales of baked goods and candy bars in their hallways. However, a recent study has shown that decade-old nutrition laws limiting the availability of snacks and soda in some schools have actually had the biggest impact in the battle against childhood obesity.
Led by health policy expert with the University of Illinois at Chicago, Daniel Taber, the study found that kids in states supporting strict nutrition standards were less likely to become obese or remain overweight later in life. And, those who attended schools limiting snack and pop consumption in later grades stood the best chance of maintaining a healthy weight. In short, the stricter and more long-lasting the laws, the better the students' chances of staying healthy.
Researchers controlled for many extraneous factors, such as race and income, and although they couldn't conclusively state that strict nutrition standards helped with weight loss, they found these guidelines certainly helped students stick to a well-balanced diet necessary to discourage weight gain. The most effective programs limited junk food and beverages in vending machines, cafeterias and campus stores where students were most likely to alleviate hunger pains in between classes.
With the childhood obesity rate nearly three times what it was thirty years ago, parents of students in abiding schools can at least rest assured that their loved ones are getting the proper nutrition when they're out of arm's length. It may be a small step, but it's good to know someone's paying attention.