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The Extent to Which School District Competitive Food and Beverage Policies Align with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Implications for Federal Regulations

Schneider L, Schermbeck RM, Chriqui JF, and Chaloupka FJ. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112(6):892-896, June 2012. 

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 authorized the Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture to establish science-based nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages sold in school that are, at a minimum, aligned with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), while still providing districts with discretion in regulating the competitive food and beverage environment. The objective of this study was to examine the extent to which district competitive food and beverage policies had specific and required limits aligned with 2010 DGA recommendations, and to inform US Department of Agriculture efforts as they develop competitive food and beverage standards. Competitive food and beverage policies were compiled for the 2009-2010 school year from a nationally representative sample of 622 districts. Each policy was double-coded for compliance with selected 2010 DGA recommendations (ie, restrictions on sugars, fats, trans fats, and sodium in foods and restrictions on regular soda, other sugar-sweetened beverages, and fat content of milk). Descriptive statistics were computed, clustered to account for the sample design, and weighted to account for districts nationwide. District nutrition policies were strongest for elementary schools. Nationwide, <5% of districts met or exceeded all of the previously mentioned nutrient requirements examined. Fat and sugar content of foods and soda availability were more commonly addressed. Areas that require attention include stronger nutrition standards at the secondary level, limits on trans fats, sodium, sugar-sweetened beverages other than soda, and fat content of milk, and greater availability of produce and whole grains at all sale locations.

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