Banning Junk Food at School

Do you try to make sure your child eats a balanced diet but feel like you're always fighting a losing battle? If so, then you may be interested in learning about some new legislation that would ban junk food at school. This could be an important step toward improving your child's nutrition, while and securing his health and wellbeing, too.

The Current Situation

At the present time, the federal restrictions on what schools can serve to its students are vague, leaving perhaps too much room for a wide interpretation. Many child advocates believe that this could be at least in part to blame for record-high childhood obesity rates, as well as increases in related health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

The Facts about Junk Food at School

Congress wants to rectify the situation by updating the existing Child Nutrition Act, which was established more than 30 years ago and is now coming up for reauthorization.

Keep in mind that when the original nutrition standards for schools were set back in 1979, there was no cap on the calories, saturated fat or sodium allowed in student's meals. Today, though, research has showed the importance to watch the content in these areas. This is important in order to address obesity, diabetes and other health problems that are increasingly facing young people today.

To this end, the updated version of what schools can provide will include much more stringent limits on junk food at school. Further, this will apply not only to the foods that schools serve to student in the cafeteria, but also to the offerings in vending machines, school stores and anywhere else food is available on school campuses.

Changes in Nutrition Standards

Many people believe these changes will be key to improving a challenging situation. In fact, although most school lunches are already relatively nutritious, there're still a host of sugary and high fat options available through vending machines. Such easy access to non-nutrition choices at school allows children to add extra calories to their diet without thinking twice. In addition, such attractive, but unhealthy, choices can be all too easy lures for kids.

Support for Ban on Junk Food in School

That's why the new legislation would prohibit soda, candy and other sugary snacks and drinks on school campuses and would mandate only healthy choices be included in vending machines.

These changes already have widespread support from a number of organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association and Save the Children, among many others.

What You Can Do

While these changes can indeed benefit your child's health and future wellbeing, it's important to keep in mind that what your child eats at school is only half of the equation. Even if junk food at school is banned, if your youngster brings in sugary treats for home for lunch, or fills up on cookies and candies after school, he won't get the benefit the legislation intends.

To prevent this from happening, it's important to make sure to have healthy foods available at home for your family, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. You should also be sure to model healthy eating yourself for your children. Such changes can make a big difference for your child, both now and in the future, too.


American Academy of Pediatrics

Consumer Affairs