Report: USDA Should Regulate In-School Snacks

Attempts to remove unhealthy snacks from schools could start a new controversy.

Danielle Davis, a Capital High school student with severe nut allergies, stands in front of a vending machine in Charleston, W.Va. Friday, April 24, 2008. Most vending machine offerings contain nuts, nut by-products or are processed in a facilty that uses nuts for other products.
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In an April letter to Vilsack, groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, PEW, Kraft Foods, and Nestle asked that the agency consider "authoritative scientific recommendations for nutrition standards" when devising its snack food guidelines.

The PEW study found that in every state but New Hampshire, less than 50 percent of high schools offered fruits as snacks, while many high schools sell salty or sweet snacks. The study, based on data from the 2011 Centers for Disease Control School Health Profiles report, only measured which foods were offered, not which ones students were consuming.

"The study is flawed," Huelskamp says. "How can you make a claim about what the impact [of a snack mandate] might be if you can't measure down to an individual level?"The PEW report recommends that the USDA limit calories on individual snack foods, set limits on sugar and fats, and place restrictions on high-calorie beverages.

King takes issue with that last part: "They've put every kid in America on a diet. Now it looks like Michael Bloomberg's no large sodas in New York ordinance could be applied at the federal level," he says.

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  • Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.