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Nutrition standards for foods in schools

Congress recently directed the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) to undertake a study in partnership with the Institute of Medicine (IOM).  The goal was to establish nutrition guidelines
for government-subsidized nutrition programs in schools nation-wide.  These guidelines are meant to help combat the
growing rates of overweight and obesity in US children.

The standards may surprise you in their restrictiveness – no
beverages with more than 5 calories/serving are permitted (excluding milk or
soy milk) unless the child is involved in rigorous physical activity for more
than 1 hour in duration (then they can have a sports drink such as Gatorade).  No items with more than 35% of calories from
total sugars are permitted, and all bread and cereal items must be whole grain.  There are also restrictions on fat and salt
levels in the food.  Artificially
sweetened drinks and caffeinated beverages are not recommended.  The IOM also calls for removal of all junk
food and soda machines, and replacement with fruit, milk, and healthy snack options.

Reading these guidelines I thought, “Wow, if kids really ate
this way we probably would make a big difference in obesity rates.”

And then I wondered… “But will these kids just go home and
eat a box of oreos and a liter of coke at the end of the school day?  Is it enough to have a healthy food
environment at school, but not at home?
What is the role of parents in this?”

What do you think?
Are the IOM’s recommendations likely to 1) be followed by all schools 2)
make a difference in childrens’ weights?
Is there anything else you’d recommend?This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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One Response to “Nutrition standards for foods in schools”

  1. StacyBStryerMD says:

    “Wow” is right.  These are tough guidelines and I have mixed feelings about their severity.  I do think that if a child is exposed to these foods early on, he/she will develop more of a taste for them and will be more likely to see these types of foods as the “norm,” rather than the “abnormal.”  Also, I think it would decrease the total amount of junk food/sugary foods consumed in an entire day.  And perhaps a child will learn from this and begin to question what he/she eats at home if it’s so different from what he sees in school.

    My guess is that not many school systems will follow these recommendations entirely.  It has been very difficult in my community to make any changes, let alone such drastic ones.  Perhaps over longer term it will come to this, but not immediately.

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