Thursday, June 27th, 2013
New federal school nutrition standards were released today, requiring that schools offer healthy snack choices to students and avoid unhealthy options like candy and chips. Healthy choices include items such as granola bars, trail mix, and baked chips according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards. CNN has more on the standards, which are the first such measure to be passed in three decades:
The regulations set limits for fat, salt and sugar sold in places such as vending machines and snack bars. School foods must contain at least 50% whole grains or have a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as the first ingredient. Foods that contain at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetables will also be allowed.
Beverages will be under the microscope as well. Sports drinks, which contain relatively high amounts of sugar, are prohibited. Low-fat and fat-free milk, 100% fruit and vegetable juice, and no-calorie flavored waters are permitted. Potable water must be made available to kids for free where meals are served.
Schools and food and beverage companies must meet these standards by July 1, 2014, according to the USDA. That means the rules would be in effect for the 2014-2015 school year….
…”Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”
Children will still be allowed to bring in any snacks from home that they choose, and parents can continue to deliver treats for birthday celebrations or holidays to the classroom. Special fund-raising events such as bake sales are also allowed.
Image: School vending machine, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, October 25th, 2012
A spicy flavor of the popular snack food Cheetos called “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,” is being banned by school districts in three states because, officials say, the snack is too high in calories and fat, and it is too spicy for children to safely eat. From The New York Times:
The chips in question, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, are scarlet-red, exceedingly spicy and enormously popular. Multiple fan pages with thousands of followers have sprung up on Facebook, and a rap video about hot Cheetos – created by children – has nearly 3.5 million views on YouTube.
But some school districts say the chips are too high in calories, salt and fat, and too spicy for most children. Teachers and parents have complained that the artificial coloring has children leaving behind bright red fingerprints in their classrooms and on their clothing. And emergency room doctors say they have seen patients complaining of stomach pain after eating hot Cheetos, and they warn that eating the chips in excess – because of the bright food dye they contain – may cause discolored stool that can lead to unnecessary hospital visits.
In Pasadena, Calif., a principal at an elementary school told the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the story, that the chips would be confiscated from any student who brings them to school. In New Mexico, students at the Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School in Albuquerque were sent home with a letter telling parents not to let their children bring Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to school. The letter said that the snack lacks nutritional value and creates a mess for janitors, and that students eat it instead of a healthy lunch. The letter also noted that the chips are shared among students, spreading germs.
Frito-Lay, the company that makes Cheetos, says it does not market the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos brand specifically to small children, nor does it sell the snacks directly to schools.
Image: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, via fritolay.com
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Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
The obesity epidemic, which affects an estimated 10 percent of American children ages 2-5, is rooted in poor eating habits that begin between ages 12 and 24 months, a new study presented at the annual scientific meeting of The Obesity Society has found.
Diets low in whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, frequent high-calorie between-meal snacks, and high amounts of saturated fat are all factors in toddlers’ early diets that profoundly affect their later eating habits and, ultimately, weight.
“We’re seeing poor eating habits starting early in life, and they mirror those of older children and adults. Parents and caregivers need to know that eating patterns are set early – between 12 to 24 months. It’s crucial to establish the foundation for healthy diets early in life when eating habits and food preferences are being formed,” said Kathleen Reidy, DrPH, RD, who heads the Nutrition Science department for Nestlé Infant Nutrition, which conducted the study. “The new findings show how simple changes can make significant improvements in children’s diets.”
Researchers recommend a list of changes parents can adopt–small adjustments that they say can make a big difference in their children’s health:
- Think of snacks as “mini-meals” that should include healthy, nutrition-dense foods like fruit, low-fat yogurt, or whole-grain products.
- Offer water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit high-fat meats like hot dogs and bacon, relying instead on lean meats like turkey, or protein-dense vegetables like avocado.
- After age 2, offer 1 percent or skim milk instead of 2 percent or whole milk. The latter contains high levels of saturated fat.
(image via: http://www.essentialbaby.com.au)
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