Children in the United States are becoming more overweight and obese, putting them at risk for serious health concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels. In addition to the risk of obesity-related health concerns, poor food choices could lead to other health concerns, like osteoporosis from inadequate calcium intake.
In response to growing concerns over obesity, national attention has focused on the need to establish school nutrition standards and limit access to competitive foods. As a result, over the past few years, school nutrition policy initiatives have been put into place at federal, state, and local levels. However, responses of school districts to meeting wellness policy requirements have not been consistent.
To augment local wellness policies, Congress directed the CDC to undertake a study with the IOM to review and make recommendations about appropriate nutritional standards for the availability, sale, content and consumption of foods at school, with attention to competitive foods. The ensuing report, Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way toward Healthier Youth, concluded that:
- federally-reimbursable school nutrition programs should be the main source of nutrition at school;
- opportunities for competitive foods should be limited; and,
- if competitive foods are available, they should consist of nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products, as consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).