Cutting School Snacks Could Curb Childhood Obesity

Elisa Zied, Registered Dietitian, spokeswoman for American Dietetic Association

Hopefully, the children won't run to their cupboard or pantry to devour their favorite food that's now banned at school. Hopefully, children will look for similar caps on any packaged snack foods when they're at a convenience store with their friends, or when choosing a snack to buy food from a vending machine outside of school.

Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco

It's a great first step. It will have some impact directly and even more indirectly by raising awareness of the importance of making heathier choices. By increasing awareness, children may help to influence their parents.

Julie N. Germann, Licensed Psychologist, Clinical Director, FitMatters Weight Control Program, La Rabida Children's Hospital

Children's dietary and activity habits are highly influenced by their environment, which includes their school, home, and community. It also communicates to children that "our school cares about health and nutrition, even in our snacks." Even though children still have the option of stopping at the corner store after school to buy less healthy snacks, having healthier snacks available in the school will improve their snack-time nutrition and teach a healthier message.

Criticism of the Plan

Richard D. Feinman, Co-Editor-in-chief, Nutrition & Metabolism

This is truly shocking. Whereas lowering sugar is good, lowering fat is not because it leads to increases in starch consumption. Fat consumption has gone down during the obesity epidemic and one study after the other shows how useless low-fat prescriptions are. The American Heart Association is making the same recommendations that were so detrimental during this epidemic. On the other hand, if we do it as an experiment, and abide by the conclusions -- obesity is bound to get worse -- we will learn something.

Barry M. Popkin, Director, UNC Interdisciplinary Obesity Program, Professor of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

These guidelines are very weak. This is a continuation of the ineffectual initial agreement made with Coke, Pepsi and Schweppes. And there is no enforcement or monitoring or evaluation arm funded for this effort.

It is sad that they can get publicity for essentially cutting a few products. Snacks represent the most energy dense portion of the diet and this does very little to improve that.

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