Schools that ban junk food are 18% lighter

Oct 28, 2010 by Steve Smith

(PhysOrg.com) -- Here's some simple math for school officials and parents in the fight against childhood obesity: School lunchtimes minus snack food equals a much lighter student body. Literally.

A new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has directly estimated the relationship between school food policies and students' weight by examining nutrition policies in schools and coupling it with survey information from students, parents and school administrators.

The findings suggest that a single policy shift -- banning all from a la carte lines during school lunch hours -- would result in an 18 percent reduction in overweight or obese students.

With more than 30 million children being served lunch and 9.7 million being served breakfast each school day, the new evidence adds to a growing argument for beefing up U.S. school food policies when dealing with and drinks.

"The upward trend in the incidence of obesity among children and adolescents has gained national attention and has motivated calls for immediate action to alter environments to prevent and reduce overweight and obesity," the study says.

"The school environment plays an important role in shaping eating habits among youth as they spend one-fourth to one-third of their day at school."

The study, by UNL associate professors Patricia Kennedy (marketing) and Mary McGarvey (economics), along with Bree Dority, assistant professor of economics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, examined survey responses from seventh- and 12th-graders and their parents at eight Midwestern schools.

Researchers then combined those responses with those of school administrators and considered a range of other factors to precisely gauge the effect of schools' food policies on students' weight.

The study suggests expanding the USDA's current ban on selling so-called Foods of Limited Nutritional Value during meal times to include all junk food a la carte selections.

While the current USDA ban covers many unhealthy foods, it doesn't cover items like candy bars, soda, potato chips, cookies and other high-fat snack foods.

The researchers recommended that marketers of foods and beverages to children and adolescents limit or eliminate their sales of junk foods in schools, as well: "Marketers have known for some time that building long-term relationships with their consumers is much more profitable than having a constant turnover of buyers," it says.

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More information: Their findings, which appear in the Nov. 1 edition of the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, are from a three-year research project on child obesity funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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aroven
5 / 5 (2) Oct 28, 2010
bad title - removing junk food from school menus doesn't make students 18% lighter. It reduces the number of overweight and obese students by 18%. Considering over 74% of Americans are overweight or obese (http://en.wikiped...States), that means around 12% of the student body on average will be 'rescued' by this policy.
aroven
4.2 / 5 (6) Oct 28, 2010
The idea that schools are serving candy bars is disgusting, but schools shouldn't even be serving non-diet sodas... there are 17 packets of sugar in a bottle of soda. I mean, c'mon, this is the 21st century! We know what this stuff does! Sensible nutrition education is also a requirement. Not simplistic 'eat your vegetables, have a little bit of everything' mumbo-jumbo, but a useful breakdown of what carbs, proteins and fats are and training on how to count calories, etc. The later we wait to do this the more likely people are to develop insulin resistance, develop metabolic syndrome and then the battle to lose weight becomes infinitely harder.
Eric_B
4 / 5 (4) Oct 28, 2010
We can't have our government PAY for "healthy food" or better equipped and staffed schools or anything like this in other areas of our society.

That would be SOCIALISM, for G-d's sake!!!
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2010
How about they stop cutting the cash flow to extracirricular sports and gym classes?

Notice our kids got fatter when they stopped exercising? Notice as adults that we get fatter when we stop exercising? THrough the 90's there was a big push to reduce the "unnecessary" funding for school programs that were physical rather than educational in nature. The correlation is interesting, but not evidential.
Royale
5 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2010
They can even pay for staff in my state (NJ) right now, but you don't need to pay to remove an option. No 'healthier' options. Kids eat lunch, (some of you breakfast) and be happy. My stomach growls in between too, but I don't run out and grab a candy bar or bag of chips (usually) so take out the option and the kids will benefit.
Royale
5 / 5 (2) Oct 28, 2010
good point SH, I think that since I was in school in the 90's I just made it through that tipping point. Gym was mandatory, there was no 'sitting out if you want to' like there is now, that is; if they even offer gym in the school.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Oct 28, 2010
Since when is the weight of children a matter for the Department of Education?

I just kinda figured it was one of those pesky parental responsibilities...

How 'bout we try this...schools, you do your best (which is pretty damned bad) to make sure the kids you "teach" can at least pass basic skills in math, science, and English. THEN you get to worry about how much body fat little Timmy has.

Can we say priorities?

On edit:

And SH, while I definitely can't dispute your point...honestly I'd cut all funding for athletic activities and extra circulars until and unless schools start showing some academic progress.
TDK
1.6 / 5 (18) Oct 28, 2010
The idea that schools are serving candy bars is disgusting, but schools shouldn't even be serving non-diet sodas... there are 17 packets of sugar in a bottle of soda. I mean, c'mon, this is the 21st century! We know what this stuff does! Sensible nutrition education is also a requirement. Not simplistic 'eat your vegetables, have a little bit of everything' mumbo-jumbo, but a useful breakdown of what carbs, proteins and fats are and training on how to count calories, etc. The later we wait to do this the more likely people are to develop insulin resistance, develop metabolic syndrome and then the battle to lose weight becomes infinitely harder.

I can't understand, why such comment can get other number, then just five points. Actually it was downvoted instead. The PO forum is really full of fat trolls - or I have no better explanation for it.
Royale
not rated yet Oct 28, 2010
While I don't agree with most of your posts on this website, TDK, I do agree with this one. Completely. With your upvote, then mine he's up to 3.7. Hopefully people will quit downvoting without reading, or downvoting just because they disagree. Down-voting is for when a person is clearly being an idiot/not thinking critically, or logically. IMO anyway.
Caliban
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 28, 2010
The idea that schools are serving candy bars is disgusting, but schools shouldn't even be serving non-diet sodas...[...]the battle to lose weight becomes infinitely harder.

I can't understand, why such comment can get other number, then just five points. Actually it was downvoted instead. The PO forum is really full of fat trolls - or I have no better explanation for it.


@TDK,

I'll tell you why I, personally, downvoted this otherwise spot-on comment: I disagree with the assumption that "diet" softdrinks are somehow better for a child than sweetened ones are.

Eliminate softdrinks altogether(along with HFCS and aspartame)! OK, maybe keep some tea on hand(sweetened with a little cane sugar or stevia -but only a little), and for the rest, make it 100% fruitjuice.
Skultch
3 / 5 (2) Oct 29, 2010
Since when is the weight of children a matter for the Department of Education?

I'd cut all funding for athletic activities and extra circulars until and unless schools start showing some academic progress.


When they discovered that sugar crashing led to falling asleep in class. They care about the health of their sons and daughters while in their jurisdiction. They are evangelizing the truth that good nutrition leads to better learning. Would Jesus have us leave our neighbor's children without nutritional and athletic (exercise) help?
Royale
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2010
You had something good going there Skultch. Then you flip to WWJD? Like, really?

And Caliban, I definitely forgot to mention that about the diet soda, but I feel the same way. (Let's give them chemical 'sweetener' instead!)... Morons... I work at a school and I am shocked just at the number of parents that medicate their children. Especially for the little ones... like really? you've had your second grader diagnosed with ADHD? your eight year old is hyper sometimes? there should be laws there too, how about no speed for kids? are parents really that naive nowadays? well, the dr said it was ok so... WHAT? you can read labels parents, let's see Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine, Levoamphetamine... see a theme here ladies and gents? it's insane to me to picture a child sitting in a D.A.R.E. lecture while on speed. I don't care what you 'rename' it, it's still speed.
Skultch
3 / 5 (2) Oct 29, 2010
You had something good going there Skultch. Then you flip to WWJD? Like, really?


Yeah, I guess you have to know that I'm an atheist to get the rhetoric there. I can't remember if MM is xian or not, but I'm just more than a little confused that so many xians complain when other people try to help the relatively helpless. I guess political ideology trumps compassion.
Royale
not rated yet Oct 29, 2010
ahh.. got it.. that makes more sense now.. and yes, in some cases political ideology trumps compassion. Just ask my parents why they're "afraid of Muslims". It's really kind of sad when you follow anything like a lost puppy and then try to argue the "cause"..

..pretty maddening..
aroven
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2010
I disagree with the assumption that "diet" softdrinks are somehow better for a child than sweetened ones are.


I guess my comment was influenced by this article in The Atlantic (http://www.theatl...65098/), in which it says "as soon as the parents had successfully lobbied to ban "junk foods" from the lunchroom, their children stopped eating there. Instead of buying the school lunch with the occasional high-calorie snack, they skipped lunch, grabbed fast food from off-campus restaurants. It is difficult to teach a high school student how to make healthy choices in the real world if only escarole and tofu on are on the school lunch menu."
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2010
Amen aroven. Trying to regulate a teens diet via the friggen school system is like congress trying to control their weight by passing a law to reduce gravitational attraction....

Good luck with this you guys, lemme know how it works for ya.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2010
You had something good going there Skultch. Then you flip to WWJD? Like, really?


Yeah, I guess you have to know that I'm an atheist to get the rhetoric there. I can't remember if MM is xian or not, but I'm just more than a little confused that so many xians complain when other people try to help the relatively helpless. I guess political ideology trumps compassion.


Nice one bigot. Like I can't have an opinion on this subject without my religious views being a factor?

Small minded....faugh, forget it.

I guess I should be surprised when a souless Godless atheist DOES "care" about other people past their being monkeys with big brains?

See how that sounds? How about you sit down with yourself and do some heavy HEAVY duty introspection on how you judge, or more accurately pre-judge people. You are in serious need of it.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2010
Eliminate softdrinks altogether(along with HFCS and aspartame)! OK, maybe keep some tea on hand(sweetened with a little cane sugar or stevia -but only a little), and for the rest, make it 100% fruitjuice.


How about we all live in "fairy land" where we eliminate EVERYTHING that could possibly do us harm, or that ANYONE even THINKS might be able to do us harm. Tie pillows around ourselves and walk (not run or drive cars) down the streets looking like the Michelin man. On second thought, could we even leave the house? Please, if we could, I'd like to be able to do that...
Skultch
3 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2010
...I'm just more than a little confused ... I guess ....


Nice one bigot. ...

Small minded....faugh, forget it. ...a souless Godless atheist DOES "care" about other people past their being monkeys with big brains?...
... heavy HEAVY duty introspection on how you judge, or more accurately pre-judge people. You are in serious need of it.


Woah, a little too sensitive there. I guess I struck a chord exposing your ideological inconsistencies, huh? I open with admitting confusion, looking for understanding, and instead of helping me understand, you attack with passion. You assume an attack on my part, just because I'm an atheist. More xian hypocrisy, I guess. I'm plenty introspective; I think you should study your xian empathy better.
Javinator
5 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2010
I'd cut all funding for athletic activities and extra circulars until and unless schools start showing some academic progress.


Hmm... this is a pretty broad statement.

While I agree that in some schools and districts there's a ton of money spent on athletics and extracurriculars (highschool football can get pretty intense down south I hear... I just think of Varsity Blues lol), cutting funding for athletics/extracurricular completely would be horrible. Many families would not be financially able to involve their kids in many of the activities they get involved in at school.

While school IS about academics, there are many important skills (social skills and whatnot) that are also learned there.

There needs to be a balance. Extreme spending on either side isn't the answer.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2010

Woah, a little too sensitive there. I guess I struck a chord exposing your ideological inconsistencies, huh? I open with admitting confusion, looking for understanding, and instead of helping me understand, you attack with passion.


Struck a chord? Yeah you did, in exactly the same manner a racist does when they tell a racist joke. that the one you were looking to hit?

You have no "confusion" that's a load of complete bullshit. You were making a dig at Christians, you weren't "confused" a bit. I know the difference between the tone of someone asking for clarification and an extremely thinly veiled bigoted insult. If you don't, or lack the self honesty to even see THAT, then there's no point in discussing anything at all with you until you can at least be honest with yourself on a conscious level.

Christian empathy you say? I don't have empathy with bigots and assholes like you. Empathy requires being able to put yourself in the others shoes...
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2010
Wow. I guess I really am totally incapable of suspending judgement. Who knew? /sarc

You don't know me. You assume too much. I'm not Otto. I actually have respect for religionists, despite my disagreements and objections. I do not advocate the abolition of religion, just inter-worldview understanding. I have never had faith or religion in my life, so I strive to understand it better online. No one likes religious discussions in real life.

Am I curt and sarcastic? Yes, but I don't think I was being dishonest or prejudicial.

In summary, calm down and defend your position/worldview or just shut up. No one cares how bigoted you think we all are.
Caliban
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 02, 2010
Amen aroven. Trying to regulate a teens diet via the friggen school system is like congress trying to control their weight by passing a law to reduce gravitational attraction....

Good luck with this you guys, lemme know how it works for ya.


MM/Sister Sarah, by the same logic, you could just as well say that there is no need to post speed limits, mandate a minimum age for alcohol consumption, or legislate statutes against fraud or racketeering. Easily the stupidest thing I've ever seen you write, here, MM -even above and beyond your usual logically challenged God/freemarket/Tea party assertions.

If Parents and School boards are foolish enough to allow open campus during lunch, then they can rely upon students leaving school to buy junkfood, drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Your solution? Why, throw in the towel! Why should adults do anything to help form the basis of healthy behavior in children in later life?

You just confirmed your always suspected STAIN status.

Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2010
Your solution? Why, throw in the towel! Why should adults do anything to help form the basis of healthy behavior in children in later life?

You just confirmed your always suspected STAIN status.



Why of course, because the parents shouldn't be in this equation anywhere. You are a COMPLETE moron Caliban. What if the State can't do it then no one can?

That was my whole point, but you can't grasp things outside your statist little box can you? It'd never occur to you to have the PARENTS of the kids deal with this issue would it? Fascist jerk.
Caliban
1 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2010
Your solution? Why, throw in the towel! Why should adults do anything to help form the basis of healthy behavior in children in later life?

You just confirmed your always suspected STAIN status.



Why of course, because the parents shouldn't be in this equation anywhere. You are a COMPLETE moron Caliban. What if the State can't do it then no one can?

That was my whole point, but you can't grasp things outside your statist little box can you? It'd never occur to you to have the PARENTS of the kids deal with this issue would it? Fascist jerk.

No, that wasn't your point, dipstick. You reject the principle of the state acting(on behalf of all of us) in loco parentis, and then you want parents AND the state apparatus to fall down as well -merely to serve your cretin agenda of privatization(in this case, of education). You want to expand the gap between haves and nave nots. Fuck you. I won't bow down to your plutocratic, half-baked Mammon worshipping.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Nov 03, 2010
No, that wasn't your point, dipstick. You reject the principle of the state acting(on behalf of all of us) in loco parentis, and then you want parents AND the state apparatus to fall down as well


No, what I said was that it's not the job of the education system to monitor the weight of those they're supposed to be educating. I said that the weight issue is the parents responsibility...and I'm 100% right.

-merely to serve your cretin agenda of privatization(in this case, of education).


While I agree privatization of schools would be an extremely good thing, no in this case I'm merely asking that the idiots running the public schools concentrate on things like EDUCATION rather than body fat. Crazy I know...

Fuck you.


No.

I won't bow down to your plutocratic, half-baked Mammon worshipping.


Neither will I bow down to your quasi-fascist, outdated, sheepish worship of the state as God agenda. Guess we're even on that one.
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2010
No, what I said was that it's not the job of the education system to monitor the weight of those they're supposed to be educating. I said that the weight issue is the parents responsibility...and I'm 100% right.


It is the parent's responsibility. No one is saying otherwise. If you think Caliban or I disagree, my guess is you are projecting ignorant people's opinions on us. Not fair, and it's an obvious straw man.

Do you care to respond to my point about nutrition and mental ability, specifically attention? Do you disagree that a child's ability to learn is irrelevant to the DoE's mission? Forget about the DoE's existence for now. IMO, they are facilitating their mission by addressing nutrition.
Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2010
Neither will I bow down to your quasi-fascist, outdated, sheepish worship of the state as God agenda. Guess we're even on that one.


Nor will you have to, Sister.

However, quite soon you will likely look on in despair when your Ayn Rand inspired/justified blind, self-serving, greed-driven lifestyle disintegrates when your high-octane job is sacrificed upon Mammon's altar, and you realise that your active campaign against civic feeling, compassion, and brotherhood has not only destroyed the government-administered safety net that might have arrested your long fall, it has also destroyed the very idea of community that produced that safety net in the first place. And who will save you then?

Will Jeebus pay your mortgage, or for your kid's new clothes and shoes, or their private schooling? Is He going to give your kids the money to go to a convenience store or fast-food joint to buy that Supersized Big Gulp and a bagful of dollar "cheese"burgers?

Rotsa Ruck!