Kids living in states with strict school rules on junk food are more protected from obesity. Or so says a new study that found a link between school-food laws and child obesity rates.
A study of the journal Pediatrics published on Monday shows that severe guidelines on school junk food can be responsible for a slower obesity rate. In 2008 more than a third of US kids were overweight or obese. In 2010, obesity affected a fifth of US youth, and it’s still a worrying percentage.
Researchers studied weight changes of 6300 students in 40 states between 2004 and 2007, following kids from fifth to eighth grade. These results were used to compare weight change in states with a severe school-food law against states with mild or no such regulations.
The main conclusion of the study showed a correlation between the severity of the rules and the childhood obesity rate. Students living in states with strict food guidelines had a lower body mass index. The difference is an average of 2.25 pounds, meaning these students have a slower childhood obesity rate. Also, it seems that obese children in severe food-law states are more likley to reach a normal weight by the time they finish the eighth grade.
Given these findings, the prospect of tough school-food laws seems most promising. This could be a very efficient tool in the battle against obesity. One of the study’s authors, Daniel Taber, a fellow at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Chicago, told L.A. times state policy can really help reduce obesity rates.
“This study definitely suggests that states can have an impact on student health when they enact effective school health policies” said Daniel Taber. If that is true, severe food regulations can be a key national health policy key.
Unfortunately, many states do not apply these methods, in lack of such regulations. The good news is that the organization that helped finance the study, the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, claimed the results made the case for a strong national standard for snacks and beverages.
Hopefully, the emergence of such standards will put an end to the widespread issue that childhood obesity is today.