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  #1   ^
Old Mon, Aug-21-17, 04:15
teaser's Avatar
teaser teaser is offline
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Default Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas...70817131134.htm

Quote:
Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts

A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by Virginia Tech researchers.

"We thought the legislation would have a profound effect and assumed there would be changes in snack behavior at school and at home," said Professor Elena Serrano, who co-authored the study. Instead, Serrano and Georgianna Mann, a former Virginia Tech graduate student, discovered that while there were improvements in the nutritional value of snacks available to students, teens did not report making healthier choices.

One in five American school-aged children has obesity, defined as excess body fat. Many children and parents struggle to make healthy food choices, particularly given that offices, schools, and other public settings may provide limited access to nutritious foods and snacks. All too often, vending machines stocked with a tantalizing array of colorfully packaged sugar- and fat-laden temptations offer an instant, if fleeting, answer to food cravings. Because children spend much of their time in school, educational institutions can have a significant impact on diet through the foods and drinks they make available to students.

The study by Mann, now an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, and Serrano, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist who serves as Family Nutrition Program Project director and professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was recently published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

The research team examined the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Smart Snacks in School regulation. Introduced at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, the federal mandate was intended to replace unhealthy school snacks and beverages with more wholesome options, including fruits, vegetables, and packaged treats low in fat, sugar, and sodium. More than 25 percent of children's daily calories may come from snacks.

The researchers examined the impact of this policy on children's snack food and beverage intake at eight middle schools in rural Appalachian Virginia. Certain factors, such as low socioeconomic status and a rural lifestyle, are correlated with lower dietary quality and higher obesity rates.

The researchers investigated the food environment both before and after implementation of the Smart Snacks standards. Before implementation, 416 sixth-grade students were surveyed. After implementation, 304 sixth- and 363 seventh-grade students were surveyed.

"We did not see any significant difference in overall snack behavior before or after," Serrano said.

Childhood obesity has tripled over the past three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Smart Snacks complemented the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which overhauled the federal school breakfast and lunch programs with new standards to promote whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products, and less sodium and fat in school meals. Since school meals formulate only part of a student's daily calorie intake, Smart Snacks was added to close the nutritional gap by providing healthy foods and beverages through school vending machines, stores, and la carte services.

The good news is that foods with the highest number of eating occasions during the school day were fruit (23 percent of the students consumed it once per day) and vegetables (13.9 percent), followed by candy and chips. Students reported similar percentages for snack foods enjoyed outside of school. In short, no significant differences were found after implementation of the Smart Snacks program.

Snack packaging may have clouded student reporting, according to the researchers.

"Many snacks now available to students in schools have been reformulated to meet the new, healthier snack standards," said Serrano. However, these "copycat" snacks are packaged to look very much like their less healthy counterparts, which are available in stores.

"If you don't know the difference, you may not report it as different. This would prevent researchers from detecting a difference," she said.

In addition, the researchers examined snack habits rather than meal behaviors, which may have changed for the better.

While the middle schools did their best to comply with the new, more rigorous federal nutrition standards, most were not fully compliant.

"Based on a parallel study of the same eight middle schools, 90 percent of la carte foods were compliant with the standards after implementation, an increase from 36 percent compliance before the standards," Serrano stated.

Full compliance, according to Serrano, will take time, education, and resources. Some schools, particularly those in impoverished districts, have struggled to adopt healthier, albeit often more costly, snack options.

Serrano is supportive of the enhanced federal nutrition standards and cautions that healthier dietary habits are not established overnight. Given time, she feels these programs will help adolescents incorporate more nourishing foods into their diets. Serrano's hope is echoed by parents, many of whom want to see schools play a leading role in nourishing students' minds and bodies, a practice that may ultimately lower the country's obesity rates and instill life-long healthy nutritional habits.



I think a 100 percent compliance with "healthy" snacks would likely lead mostly to students not buying snacks at school. Which might not be the worst thing in the world.

For somebody whose just completed study showed this intervention to be just about effectless, Serrano is wonderfully supportive of the program. It's good that she has her feelings to guide her in this. Maybe next time instead of funding a study, the government should just consult an empath.

Quote:
Snack packaging may have clouded student reporting, according to the researchers.


Yes. Maybe what counts as "health food" because it's low in fat, or at least saturated fat, and salt is indistinguishable from junk food.

Maybe the problem never was that kale wasn't an option. Make nine out of ten snack options as appealing to kids as kale, and you'll find kids making a lot of their choices from that last ten percent.
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  #2   ^
Old Mon, Aug-21-17, 06:53
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GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teaser
Yes. Maybe what counts as "health food" because it's low in fat, or at least saturated fat, and salt is indistinguishable from junk food.

Maybe the problem never was that kale wasn't an option. Make nine out of ten snack options as appealing to kids as kale, and you'll find kids making a lot of their choices from that last ten percent.

Wow, a study driven by emotion and the intuition that it's just right for the kids. Sad that the healthy whole grain, low fat, low salt substitutes simply fuel the carb addition already reinforced by eating and snacking outside of school. Unfortunately, the concept of healthy is distorted, and this, once again, loose epidemiological "study" is unlikely to provide any significant change, even if it can be claimed to be "less bad" than the standard snack food previously served:

Quote:
Smart Snacks complemented the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which overhauled the federal school breakfast and lunch programs with new standards to promote whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products, and less sodium and fat in school meals. Since school meals formulate only part of a student's daily calorie intake, Smart Snacks was added to close the nutritional gap by providing healthy foods and beverages through school vending machines, stores, and la carte services.
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  #3   ^
Old Mon, Aug-21-17, 09:30
AeKeenLass AeKeenLass is offline
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Quote:
Maybe next time instead of funding a study, the government should just consult an empath.


If I remember correctly, that strategy was employed by the White House in the '80s.

Maybe instead of a study, the government could do this one simple step:

1. Only provide healthy food at schools.

No need to do a study about what kids are eating at school then. As long as they're eating from the food provided, it's healthy.
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  #4   ^
Old Mon, Aug-21-17, 12:25
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JLx JLx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeKeenLass

Maybe instead of a study, the government could do this one simple step:

1. Only provide healthy food at schools.



But there's no agreement on what healthy food even is.

There were plenty of people outraged at Mrs. Obama trying to instill certain food into schools on principle , as well. "Who is she to tell us what our kids should eat?"

I remember when Jamie Oliver instituted a healthy meal program as a pilot program, I think it was, in a school and parents were throwing packages of snacks over the fence for their kids.

I don't remember vending machines in schools when I was a kid, but we used to flock to nearby stores for candy, a bakery and an ice cream shop.
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, Aug-21-17, 12:42
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deirdra deirdra is offline
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How about no snacks, just a water fountain?
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  #6   ^
Old Mon, Aug-21-17, 12:55
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cotonpal cotonpal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deirdra
How about no snacks, just a water fountain?


That's the good old days, when I went to school. No vending machines just water fountains.

Jean
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  #7   ^
Old Mon, Aug-21-17, 14:03
AeKeenLass AeKeenLass is offline
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Quote:
But there's no agreement on what healthy food even is.


Yeah, I know, so step 0 would have to be that the government would adopt my understanding of what healthy food is.

My kids' elementary school had a 'no candy/junk food' policy. But they couldn't enforce it because if they confiscated candy, the parent would complain that the school had taken away their child's 'food'. However, a group of enterprising parents did manage to get chocolate milk removed from the cafeteria. I don't know what the current status is. Maybe by now another group has counter-petitioned to get it back on. The other horrible thing is just the sheer amount of food waste going on. And it's often the relatively good food that is thrown away. One smart thing the school did was to take all the fruit no one ate at breakfast, slice it up, and serve it at recess. By then all the kids who had only eaten the breakfast 'cookie', (which gets nothing but scorn from me for the disgusting concoctions these companies devise to be able to claim to be meeting federal guidelines, and for instilling in children the idea that a cookie is a healthy breakfast) were hungry and had no other options, unless their parents had conspired to provide them with candy.

My schools, forty years ago, didn't have vending machines either. But there was ice cream for sale in the cafeteria, at least in middle school and up. And of course teens can sometimes walk somewhere local to get junk food. I'm fine with that. I just don't want the school to be providing it.
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