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Look-Alike Smart Snacks in Schools

Sally Mancini's picture

Have you had lunch at your child’s school and sat there wondering why kids are still allowed to purchase Doritos and Cheetos, even after the USDA heralded in the Smart Snacks in School guidelines a few years back? Well it turns out that food companies reformulated many of their branded snack foods to meet the Smart Snacks guidelines.  The Doritos and Cheetos that children are purchasing in schools are nutritionally better than the ones for sale in the grocery or convenience store but the packaging is virtually indistinguishable, which is why they’ve been labeled as copy-cat or look-alike smart snacks by food advocates.

The first-ever study on this topic, just released by the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, found that students and parents are downright confused by this practice. Here are few of the key findings:

·         Parents and students reported that they had seen four out of five of the look-alike Smart Snacks in stores, even though they are not widely available outside of schools.

·         Students believed that they could still purchase the majority of the less-nutritious store versions of these brands in their schools.

It also turns out that the types of snacks sold in schools matters—both parents and students believed that schools selling look-alike Smart Snacks were less concerned about students’ health and well-being than schools that only offered clearly more-nutritious snacks.

As moms, we don’t have to stand by and let the food industry use schools as a place to market their unhealthy products to our children. We can demand that food manufacturers offer nutritionally improved Smart Snacks versions of their products for sale outside of schools or package the products sold in schools to clearly differentiate them from the less-nutritious versions of their brands. We can also work through our school districts’ wellness committee to include a provision in the local wellness policy that prohibits the marketing of look-alike Smart Snacks in schools. You can contact me directly to learn more:

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