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Food Practices and Using Food Incentives in Middle Schools Associated with Overweight Students

Armen Hareyan's picture

Childhood Obesity

Schoolwide food practices and policies that allow frequent snacking and consumption of foods and beverages high in calories and low in nutrients throughout the school day, and that permit use of food as incentives and rewards, were associated with higher body mass index in middle school students, according to an article in the December issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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"Obesity has become one of the more complex and challenging public health issues of this decade, affecting two thirds of adults and almost one third (30 percent) of children..." according to background information in the article. School environmental factors have been implicated in the rising childhood obesity rates. A la carte and vending programs that sell foods and beverages high in calories and low in nutrients are pervasive in schools, and other school food practices that may contribute to childhood obesity, such as fundraising and student incentives, are also documented.

Martha Y. Kubik, Ph.D., R.N., and colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, examined data from sixteen middle schools and their eighth-grade students (n = 3,088) to investigate the association between body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) in young adolescents and schoolwide food practices. BMI was calculated from students