Healthnotes September 2013
|HUB OF THE HEALTHY LIVING MARKETPLACE™ | Healthnotes September 2013
Natural Products Foundation
Smart New School Food Rules Make Good Nutrition Sense
For years, nutrition experts have criticized school food as a major contributor to increasing obesity rates and other health woes in children. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has responded by releasing new school food rules that shift the focus from processed foods high in empty calories to vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein sources including meat, beans, poultry, seafood, eggs, and nuts.
By the numbers
Children and adolescents consume more than 35% of their calories at school, and obesity rates have more than doubled in 6- to 11-year-old children and more than tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Clearly, it’s high time to push for healthier school food.
The new USDA standards apply to all food served in schools—in the cafeteria and vending machines, and at school events. This includes foods that are part of the federally reimbursable school meals program, and foods that are sold outside of federal programs, those known as “competitive foods”:
After July 1, 2016, the rule regarding 10% of daily values for key nutrients will be phased out. This will prevent the qualification of nutrient-fortified, yet otherwise nutrition-poor foods, such as diet soda with added vitamins, from being considered appropriate for school food programs. Acceptable beverages include milk, 100% fruit and/or vegetable juice, and flavored, sparkling (carbonated) beverages with no more than 40 calories per 8 ounces or 60 calories per 12 ounces.
Bringing health home
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a leader on children’s health issues, welcomed these changes, stating “I commend the U.S. Department of Agriculture for taking this momentous step to bring healthier snacks and drinks to students across the nation.” You can take steps to keep your kids healthy and fit at home, even before the new school year begins:
(Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools; www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/allfoods_summarychart.pdf)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by theNew York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.