A study released recently is showing a link to schools that allow junk food and sugary drinks to be sold with an uptick in childhood obesity.
According to an Associated Press report this week, states with strict laws on sales of junk food and sweetened drinks in school have a slightly lower rate of obesity compared with states that do not have strict guidelines for school food.
The study looked at 6,300 students in 40 states. Their heights and weights were measured in spring of 2004, when they were finishing fifth grade, and again in 2007, during the spring of their eighth grade year. In states with strong laws prohibiting junk food, nearly 39 percent of fifth-graders were overweight when the study began, which fell to 34 percent when they reached eighth grade. The 21 percent of fifth-graders who were considered obese dropped to about 18 percent in the eighth grade.
In states without laws banning junk food sales to students, almost 37 percent of fifth-graders were overweight and 21 percent were obese, and there were no significant changes to the numbers by the time those students reached eighth grade.
In Maine, public schools cannot sell foods and drinks that are of “minimal nutritional value” to students. There are a few exceptions for such products, for teachers and staff and for community events that are open to the public and held on school property. For example, a vending machine with snacks and sodas would be permitted in a teacher’s room and a fundraiser held on school grounds could sell such items as long as they were not being sold to students during the school day.