Why junk food in school must go: The effect of state laws on childhood obesity

Since 1980, childhood obesity has tripled in the U.S., and in Texas, over 30 percent of children are either overweight or obese. If something is not done soon, our kids will be doomed to a shorter life filled with chronic disease. Amazingly, a lot of this could be avoided if we reduced our children’s daily caloric intake by just 110-165 calories. That’s like half a snickers bar!

Speaking of Snickers, did you know that half of U.S. elementary school students are able to buy unhealthy snacks such as candy, cookies, cakes and baked goods outside of school meals? These are the so-called “competitive foods,” and they are virtually exempt from federal regulation.

Schools are prohibited only from selling soda, gum and some candies in the cafeteria during lunchtime. However, competitive foods still may be sold elsewhere in school through vending machines and school stores, even during lunch. And, by the law, the schools make a lot of money housing these vending machines — about $2 billion nationwide.

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