Chips, sodas out, healthier fare in with new school snack rules

February 4, 2013
Chips, sodas out, healthier fare in with new school snack rules
USDA's proposals go beyond school meals to vending machines.

(HealthDay)—The days when U.S. children can get themselves a sugary soda or a chocolate bar from a school vending machine may be numbered, if newly proposed government rules take effect.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday issued new proposals for the type of foods available at the nation's and . Out are high-salt, high-calorie fare, to be replaced by more nutritious items with less fat and sugar.

"Providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will complement the gains made with the new, healthy standards for school breakfast and lunch so the healthy choice is the easy choice for our kids," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an agency new release.

The new proposed rules focus on what are known as "competitive foods," which include snacks not already found in school meals. The rules do not pertain to bagged lunches brought to school from home, or to special events such as birthday parties, or bake sales—giving schools what the USDA calls "flexibility for important traditions." After-school sports events are also exempted, the agency said.

However, when it comes to snacks offered elsewhere, the USDA recommends they all have either fruit, vegetables, dairy products, protein-rich foods, or whole-grain products as their main ingredients.

Foods to avoid include high-fat or high-sugar items— think , sugary sodas, sweets and candy bars. Foods containing unhealthy also aren't allowed.

As for drinks, the USDA is pushing for water, unflavored low-fat milk, flavored or unflavored fat-free milk, and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices. High schools may also make and calorie-free sodas available to students.

As the USDA noted, a report issued earlier this week by the federal found that 39 states have already implemented similar rules on school-based snacks. The new USDA rules "would establish a national baseline of these standards," the agency said.

The proposals are now open for a 60-day period of public comment, and schools do not have to implement them until after a full school year passes following the rules' final adoption by the USDA.

The nonprofit consumer advocate group Center for Science in the Public Interest said it "cheered" the new proposals.

"Under USDA's proposed nutrition standards, parents will no longer have to worry that their kids are using their lunch money to buy junk food at school," the group's nutrition policy director, Margo Wootan, said in a news release.

"There's been good progress on school foods over the last decade as a result of local school district and state policies and voluntary efforts by the soft-drink industry," she added.

"But still, there are too many unhealthy foods and drinks in schools. Two-thirds of elementary school students and almost all high school students can buy foods and beverages outside of the meal programs in schools," Wootan said. "Studies show that unhealthy snacks and drinks sold in schools undermine children's diets and increase their weights."

Explore further: New rules aim to get rid of junk foods in schools

More information: There's more on the new school snack proposals at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Related Stories

New rules aim to get rid of junk foods in schools

February 2, 2013
Almost all candy, high-calorie drinks and greasy meals could soon be on a food blacklist in the nation's schools.

Rules would make school snacks healthier

February 1, 2013
(AP)—The government for the first time is proposing broad new standards to make school snacks healthier, a move that would ban the sale of almost all candy, high-calorie sports drinks and greasy foods on campus.

Sugary sports drinks plentiful at U.S. schools: study

August 6, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Although fewer middle and high schools in the United States make sugary sodas available to students today, other sweet beverages, particularly sports drinks, are still widely available, according to a new ...

Poll shows strong voter support for school nutrition standards

April 19, 2012
Eighty percent of American voters favor national standards that would limit calories, fat, and sodium in snack and à la carte foods sold in U.S. schools and encourage the consumption of fruits, vegetables and low-fat ...

U.S. schools throwing the book at unhealthy drinks

July 5, 2012
(HealthDay) -- More U.S. elementary schools are banning unhealthy beverages from the premises, according to a new report.

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.