For the last few years, schools in the USA have quickly banned candy bars, bags of potato chips, sodas and vending machines have began to go away. Even in some middle schools and high schools the fundraising strategies have switched direction – forget selling candies to buy soccer uniforms. Salads, granola bars and fruits have taken the place of chocolate bars and high calorie snacks.
Jennifer Van Hook, a sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University, explained that the results of this study were so surprising that researchers actually held off the results to ensure that all the data collected was accurate (really?). Using data from a national survey that tracked 19,500 students in the US who attended schools in both 5th grade and 8th grade, researchers found that even though there had been a significant increase in the percentage of schools selling junk food in that time frame (isn’t this a little contradictory? First they tell us that junk food is going extinct…and then they tell us quite the contrary, that it has been on the rise 2 years ago…raaaaaaaaaight), there was no corresponding rise in the percentage of students who where overweight or obese. Instead, the percentage of overweight students dropped from 39 per cent to 35 per cent.
In Canada, provinces like Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and New Brunswick have mandatory food and beverage policies at schools. The findings of this study question the effectiveness of these provincial initiatives aimed to restrict junk food in schools.
It would be interesting to see, and there is nothing on this report that points our or mentions this, if students in this study were affected by a change or increase in physical education and physical activity. A lot of american schools have also instituted a bump in their physical activity programs as a result of heavy criticism from many organizations and groups that claim (and they are right, without a doubt), that the sedentary ways of life of today’s youth have a direct impact of the increase in obesity in kids.
Also, students get in most cases, only 1 meal per day at school. Parents are for the most part, still responsible for breakfast and dinners. A lot of these students frequent fast food venues as well and the new options offered by restaurants could definitely have an impact in how fat (sorry, how obese) kids get. I can lose weight by eating a high-fat and high-calorie lunch every day…no doubt. What I would be failing to disclose is that I am eating a healthy breakfast and dinner and exercise for an hour every day. I am not fond of the study at all. It is misleading and it has a lot of room for interpretation.
Just give kids a soccer ball and send them out to play…problem solved (I am being sarcastic – but it worked for me when I was growing up).