School Vending Machines - Regulated By The Feds?

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How much junk food does your child eat every day?

Exercise and diet figure are the two main components in the quest for good health.

Getting out is important, but so is eating nutritious food.

In the pursuit of raising healthy kids, the Obama Adminstration recently introduced new federal guidelines for schools meals, and now they are contemplating new rules for vending machines on school properties.

From The New York Times:

The Obama administration is working on setting nutritional standards for foods that children can buy outside the cafeteria. With students eating 19 percent to 50 percent of their daily food at school, the administration says it wants to ensure that what they eat contributes to good health and smaller waistlines. The proposed rules are expected within the next few weeks.

Efforts to restrict the food that schoolchildren eat outside the lunchroom have long been controversial.

Representatives of the food and beverage industries argue that many of their products contribute to good nutrition and should not be banned. Schools say that overly restrictive rules, which could include banning the candy sold for school fund-raisers, risk the loss of substantial revenue that helps pay for sports, music and arts programs. A study by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that about $2.3 billion worth of snack foods and beverages are sold annually in schools nationwide.

Nutritionists say that school vending machines stocked with potato chips, cookies and sugary soft drinks contribute to childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in every five children is obese.

No details of the proposed guidelines have been released, but health advocates and snack food and soft drink industry representatives predict that the rules will be similar to those for the government’s school lunch program, which reduced amounts of sugar, salt and fat.

Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, gave the food industry credit for trying to reduce sugary drinks and fatty snacks, but said the voluntary guidelines did not go far enough.

From The Pew Charitable Trusts:

“What we have is a fragmented system where some schools do a good job of limiting access to junk food and others don’t,” she said. “We need a national standard that ensures that all schools meet some minimum guidelines.”

Of course, then there's the question of whether children will choose the healthy snacks, or find other sources of junk food. That's where education and guidance from both parents and teachers comes in.

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