Regulating Junk Food In Schools May Help Curb Childhood Obesity

State regulations to limit the availability of junk food in schools — such as banning soda from school vending machines — may be helping to slow rates of childhood obesity, according to results from the first nationwide study on the issue. The study looked at data from 6,300 students in 40 states, measuring students’ weight and height when they first entered middle school in 2004 and again when they left middle school three years later. The researchers used a database of state laws on school nutrition to confirm that states with strong junk food regulations in elementary and middle schools saw a 3-5 point decrease in childhood obesity rates, while states that lacked regulations had consistent levels of obesity among middle school aged children. With a projected 42 percent of all Americans expected to be obese by 2030, some lawmakers are pushing for more widespread legislation to restrict unhealthy food, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) ban on large soda sizes and limits on trans fat.