Why banning ALL junk food in schools is the right thing to do

My children went back to school today. My son is in preschool for five hours a day three times a week, so I have to pack him a lunch. My daughter is in first grade and I normally pack her a lunch too. But last year, in kindergarten, she asked to eat in the cafeteria many times, especially toward the end of the school year. Nothing against the food in her school's cafeteria, but I'd rather she ate what I send her because I can make sure it's as healthy as possible. Although she's not old enough to go to a school with vending machines, I hope they're all prohibited by the time she goes to middle school.

A new study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, has found that children who live in states with strict regulations regarding the sale of junk food and sugary drinks in school gain less weight than students in states with weak regulations or none at all.


Read more in ¿Qué más?: The REAL solution to the childhood obesity problem

The study looked at data on more than 6,000 students in fifth through eigth grade in 40 states. Some states had really strict laws regulating the sale of junk food--sold in vending machines, school stores and at fund-raising projects--and some others had no laws at all. Six states had strict laws, seven had weak laws and 27 had no laws whatsoever regulating junk food in their campuses.

Besides finding that kids in states with strong regulations regarding junk food gained less weight than those without the laws, the study also found that kids in those states who were already obese by fifth grade were more likely to have reached a healthy weight by eighth grade, thanks--I want to imagine--to the strict laws against junk food in schools in their states.

Critics--mostly the packaged-food industry and school districts that make money off junk food--like to claim that what kids eat in school is only a small factor in their overall food environment and laws regulating junk food don't really change anything at all.

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Well, I think this study proves them wrong and I say anything--anything at all--that helps our nation fight against the childhhood obesity problem we're facing is a step in the right direction. Hopefully more states will follow suit now that they have the results of this study.

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Topics: healthy eating  junk food  latino health  how to parent