The USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced proposed guidelines for school wellness policies. The policy includes new rules to ensure that unhealthy food marketing at school will not continue to undermine kids’ health.
The new rules will ban unhealthy food marketing to children on school grounds, including scoreboards at athletic events; on vending machines; on menu posters; and on cups and plates in cafeterias. The rules will also phase out advertising for junk foods and soda during the school day.
We applaud the First Lady and USDA for setting standards to send the right message to kids in their learning environments. Annually, $1.8 billion is spent on junk food marketing to kids. On average, kids will see 16 food and beverage ads per day. The difficulty arises in that more than 90 percent of these ads are for products high in fat, sugars or sodium.
The unhealthy advertised choice may be undercutting parents’ and teachers’ best intentions to teach healthy habits. These new proposed rules are a terrific start, even with the loop hole that after-school fundraisers and concessions at sports events are exempt.
Our hope is that more schools will see that adding healthy choices at concession stands and for fundraisers can create a healthy culture while keeping school profits high. A study by the University of Iowa found that making healthy changes to a high school’s concession stand menus helped people eat healthier, without losing revenue for the boosters club. Researchers found that the variety of food offered led to more sales.
See how Colorado schools are turning the tide on childhood obesity in Colorado by making the healthy choice the easy choice.