Monday, May 07, 2007

"Panel urges schools to replace junk foods"

Washington Post (04/26/07) Sally Squires

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released a report proposing bans on soft drinks, sugary snacks, and other junk foods sold in schools to combat obesity in children. The recommendations, drafted at the request of Congress, were the first to address the issue of “competitive foods,” snacks and drinks often sold to raise money for schools, and which compete with healthier cafeteria offerings. IOM said less-nutritious offerings should be replaced with fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole-grains. The recommendations also suggest that the calorie content of snacks and drinks be limited to no more than 200 per portion, and that schools switch to items that contain no trans fat, lower levels of sugar and sodium, and no more than 35 percent of calories from fat. IOM also suggests a ban on sports drinks, soft drinks, and caffeinated drinks, calling for schools to provide free, safe drinking water or allow students to buy nonfat or low-fat milk or 100 percent juice. J. Justin Wilson, of the Center for Consumer Freedom, called the recommendations “misguided,” warning that the report jeopardizes the classroom birthday party. But “Children eat 30 to 50 percent of their calories at schools on school days,” said Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “When parents send their kids to school with lunch money, they don’t want to worry that it will be spent on Cheetos and Gatorade.”

To read the text of the IOM report, Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way toward Healthier Youth, visit http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3788/30181/42502.aspx.]

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