CDC: Food Getting Healthier at Schools
Report Shows Less Junk Food Now Available, but Improvements Still Needed
Oct. 19, 2007 -- U.S. schools have cut back on sales of high-fat and
high-sugar foods to students since 2000, though many continue to allow
unhealthy items during the school day, concludes a government report released
The study shows that schools across the country are allowing less junk food
in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte counters. More schools have
also put healthier school lunch practices into place.
But overall results were mixed, say researchers from the CDC, which released
the study. The report also shows that junk food and sugary drinks remain
widespread in U.S. schools and that few schools provide daily physical
The report shows that the percentage of schools selling cookies, chips, and
other junk food to kids dropped between 2000 and 2006. Bottled water sales
increased, as did policies banning smoking at school events.
"These are meaningful changes in large numbers of schools," says
Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC's adolescent and school health
For example, the report shows that the percentage of schools selling french
fries dropped by half -- to 19% by 2006.
"That means that approximately 25,000 schools have stopped serving
potatoes," Wechsler says.
Fewer High-Sugar Drinks
Schools are also selling fewer high-sugar, high-calorie drinks than they did
in 2000. Still, high-sugar drinks remained available in more than
three-quarters of high schools, half of middle schools, and more than one in
six elementary schools, the report shows.
"The overall picture of what food and beverages are available in schools
remains troubling," Wechsler says.
Congress is debating new regulations that would tighten health standards for
school lunches and restrict school vending machines to selling healthier snacks
Sarah Jerome, president of the American Association of School
Administrators, a group representing school superintendents, says the
organization has no official position on the legislation.
But she says that "the urgings of law" could help speed up progress
toward healthier food in U.S. schools.
More school districts now have rules requiring physical education for
students, but many do not teach it regularly to all kids, the report states.
More than one-fifth of all schools still don't require all students to take
The report also shows that 68% of elementary schools have daily recess for