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Monifa Bandele's picture

Today 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese, but a report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation this week indicates that we could take a significant step toward preventing the epidemic by setting national standards for the snacks and beverages sold in schools.

The Health Impact Assessment on National Standards for Snack and a la carte foods and beverages sold in schools explored what the potential health and financial consequences would be when the United States Department of Agriculture (UDSA) sets nutrition standards for all of the foods sold outside of school meals. It found that raising the bar for what schools were allowed to sell would positively impact children’s health and potentially reduce their risk of chronic disease. In addition, the changes would be unlikely to hurt school district budgets as an analysis of districts that have implemented healthy standards to date indicates that most maintained or even grew their school foodservice revenues.

Today, the majority of children have access to snacks and beverages in schools and many of them are unhealthy options such as sugary drinks and salty snacks. Congress has directed the USDA to update the standards for these foods sold throughout the school day as the standards were last updated in 1979, when Carter was president. The USDA has yet to propose the rules. This study makes clear that it is imperative that USDA moves forward quickly as our children cannot afford to wait for healthier foods and school districts can afford to make the changes.

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