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Less junk food in schools today


Licorice twist, chocolate bars, salt chips and sugary sodas are declining in schools so says a government report just issued. The report is suggesting that there is less junk foods in school especially with schools that are focused on good nutrition in schools.

To estimate changes in the percentage of schools in which students could not purchase less nutritious foods and beverages, CDC analyzed 2002–2008 survey data from its School Health Profiles for public secondary schools.

When the survey started about 46% of the students couldn't buy junk food items at school. That percentage had grown to 64% in 2008. The percentage of secondary school students who couldn't buy soft drinks at school rose in all 34 states that tracked that from 2006 to 2008.

The percent of schools banning candy and salty snacks ranged from 18.2% to 88.2%. They also noted that the results varied regionally. In Hawaii, Connecticut, California, and Maine, more than two-thirds of schools didn't sell baked goods, high-fat salty snacks, candy, soda, or fruit drinks that weren't 100% juice.

Efforts to improve the school nutrition environment are working," Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, director of the CDC's division of adolescent and school health, said in a statement. But in Utah, Kansas, Idaho, and Nebraska, two-thirds of schools did sell these items. "There are still far too many schools selling less nutritious foods and beverages," Wechsler said.

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The improvements were most dramatic in some Southern states. In Mississippi, the proportion selling soda dropped from 78 percent to 25 percent. In Tennessee, it dropped from 73 percent to 26 percent. Those two states also saw dramatic reductions in sales of candy and salty snacks. The report marked a continued effort by health officials to combat childhood obesity.

"Efforts to improve the school nutrition environment are working and Mississippi and Tennessee are excellent examples of this progress," Howell Wechsler, director of CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health, said in a statement.

American Heart Association officials celebrated the progress, attributing it to aggressive legislation and school policy changes in some states that they hope will get children and teens accustomed to healthier eating. "What kids do in school in large measure dictates what they do away from school," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, the association's president.

School and public health officials should increase efforts to eliminate availability of less nutritious foods and beverages at school, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. This report has clearly concluded that there is less junk food in schools today.

Materials from AP and ABC News are used in this report.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth