Children eat at least a third of their meals at school, and spend many waking hours there, the researchers noted in their study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. Pediatrics.
At a time when about a third of children are overweight or obese, the researchers noted, those laws and regulations that do exist are meant to reduce children’s access to junk food. And elementary schools sell less candy, ice cream, sugary drinks, cookies and other such snacks when such policies are in place, the researchers said.
“We found that states and districts can influence the types of snacks and drinks sold at school,” said Jamie Chriqui, the lead author and an investigator at Bridging the Gap, a research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the study. The researchers look at food policies at 1,485 elementary schools in 957 districts and 45 states, and beverage policies at 1,497 schools in 962 districts and 45 states.