US Federal School Snack Food Rules Are Meant to Clamp Down on Calories and Fat in Student’s Daily Diet
According to federal rules aimed at giving students more nutritious options and fighting childhood obesity, snacks sold in US schools must be lower in fat, salt and sugar. The regulations largely mirror the US Department of Agriculture’s proposal that limited the fat, salt and sugar content in school snacks and student’s daily diet. Under a 2010 law revamping school foods, the standards are seen as a critical step in improving student’s diet options.
Many US children eat more than half of their daily calories at school. As part of the federal school lunch program, the regulations will cover some 50 million children attending more than 100,000 schools. The standards only apply to foods and beverages sold on school campuses during the day, and limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. This is less than most regular-sized candy bars.
Food sold at school activities such as sporting events is not subject to the regulations. This is an historic nutrition policy that will do a lot to improve children’s diet and address high rates of childhood obesity. All foods sold must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily diet value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber and must meet competitive nutrient standards.
Twelve-ounce drinks cannot exceed 60 calories, less than the calorie count of most sodas. Portion sizes will vary in age groups. Younger students will be able to buy water, 100% juice, and low-fat and fat-free milk in 8-ounce servings, while high school students can purchase 20-ounce calorie-free drinks. By improving the diet choices available to US students outside of breakfast and lunch, officials hope to make a dent in childhood obesity in a nation where one-third of those under age 18 are considered overweight or obese.