Monday, August 13, 2012

Study: Positive link between laws on snack sales at school and weight gain

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 6:30 AM

EAT HEALTHY: Limiting snack foods in schools could be a good thing. This photo was from an earlier report on impact from Arkansass 2003 law that began such curbs.
  • EAT HEALTHY: Limiting snack foods in schools could be a good thing. This photo was from an earlier report on impact from Arkansas's 2003 law that began such curbs.

A new study in Pediatrics suggests a positive effect from tough state laws limiting sales of snack foods in public schools and curbing weight gains in children.

From the New York Times:

Adolescents in states with strict laws regulating the sale of snacks and sugary drinks in public schools gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such laws, a new study has found.

...The study stopped short of saying the stronger laws were directly responsible for the better outcomes. It concluded only that such outcomes tended to happen in states with stronger laws, but that the outcomes were not necessarily the result of those laws. However, researchers added that they controlled for a number of factors that would have influenced outcomes.

Still, the correlation was substantial, researchers said, suggesting that the laws might be a factor. Students who lived in states with strong laws throughout the entire three-year period gained an average of 0.44 fewer body mass index units, or roughly 2.25 fewer pounds for a 5-foot-tall child, than adolescents in states with no policies.

The full report isn't on-line yet, but I'd guess Arkansas is among the 40 states in which students were tracked.

Arkansas began curbing vending machine sales in 2003 and in 2007 stopped allowing vending drink sales to elementary students during school hours. Older children can't make purchases until a half hour after the end of the lunch period and at least half of the drinks had to be fruit juice or low fat and unsweetened beverages. Sales of other snacks can't begin until an hour after lunch and must include some healthy choices.

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