Schools help kids choose carrots over candy bars

November 13, 2013, Michigan State University

When schools adopt healthful nutrition policies and practices, kids' diets improve.

According to new research led by Michigan State University and published in the current issue of Childhood Obesity, when schools offered snacks in lunchtime a la carte or vending that were mostly or entirely healthful, students responded with improvements in their diets, said Katherine Alaimo, MSU associate professor of food, science and .

"When healthful food options are offered, students will select them, eat them and improve their diet," she said. "Our study shows that schools can make the kinds of changes required by the forthcoming USDA guidelines, and these changes can have a positive impact on children's nutrition."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will ask schools to implement its Smart Snacks on July 1, 2014. Those recommendations will set limits on calories, salt, sugar and fat in foods and beverages, as well as promote snack foods with more whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables.

Alaimo and her team of researchers tested standards similar to the USDA's new requirements and demonstrated that Smart Snacks has the potential to improve students' eating habits.

For example, schools that started healthful snacks in lunchtime a la carte or vending programs boosted their students' overall daily consumption of fruit by 26 percent, vegetables by 14 percent and whole grains by 30 percent. Students also increased their consumption of fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C.

For the study, researchers also compared schools that adopted a variety of nutrition programs and policies. Some schools made only limited changes, while others implemented more comprehensive programs to assess and improve the 's nutrition environment.

Changes schools made included raising nutrition standards for snacks and beverages, offering taste tests of healthful foods and beverages to students, marketing healthful foods in school and removing advertisements of unhealthful foods. When schools implemented three or more new practices or policies, students' overall diets improved.

"Creating school environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice allows students to practice lessons learned in the classroom and form good habits at an early age, laying a foundation for a healthy future," said Shannon Carney Oleksyk, contributing author and healthy living adviser for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

What made the study unique, in part, was that the researchers measured ' overall diets, not just what they ate in school.

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

Related Stories

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

February 4, 2013
(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.

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 ...

Healthier diets possible in low-income, rural communities in America

October 11, 2013
In the United States, children don't eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Instead, their diets typically include excessive amounts of sugars and solid fats, counter to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans ...

Improvements in School Nutrition Have Positive Influence on Youth Eating Behaviors

December 3, 2009
(PhysOrg.com) -- When schools serve healthier, more nutritious food, students do not compensate by eating more unhealthy food at home, a new Yale University study has found. In addition, the study shows that this type of ...

New rules aim to rid US schools of junk foods

June 27, 2013
(AP)—High-calorie sports drinks and candy bars will be removed from vending machines and cafeteria lines at all U.S. schools as soon as next year, replaced with diet drinks, granola bars and other healthier items.

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.

Recommended for you

Receiving genetic information can change risk

December 11, 2018
Millions of people in the United States alone have submitted their DNA for analysis and received information that not only predicts their risk for disease but, it turns out, in some cases might also have influenced that risk, ...

Yes please to yoghurt and cheese: The new improved Mediterranean diet

December 11, 2018
Thousands of Australians can take heart as new research from the University of South Australia shows a dairy-enhanced Mediterranean diet will significantly increase health outcomes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease ...

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

Obesity, risk of cognitive dysfunction? Consider high-intensity interval exercise

December 10, 2018
It's fast-paced, takes less time to do, and burns a lot of calories. High-intensity interval exercise is widely recognized as the most time-efficient and effective way to exercise. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers ...

How to survive on 'Game of Thrones': Switch allegiances

December 9, 2018
Characters in the Game of Thrones TV series are more likely to die if they do not switch allegiance, and are male, according to an article published in the open access journal Injury Epidemiology.

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.