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Study: Junk Food Laws May Be Curbing Childhood Obesity

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Study: Junk Food Laws May Be Curbing Childhood Obesity

While some people take issue with bans on junk food, a new study shows that taking processed, fatty foods and sodas out of schools helps kids maintain a healthier weight.

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The Associated Press reports that the study results are the first large survey of the effects of various state laws that keep public schools from offering junk food options. The new study is especially significant, since previous studies have indicated that junk food in schools may have no effect on childhood obesity.

Of the children who participated in the study, those who lived in states with junk food laws gained an average of 2.2 fewer pounds between fifth and eighth grades. Those who were overweight in fifth grade were also likelier to be a healthy weight by eighth grade if their school enforced a junk food ban.

While the laws have been effective thus far, some experts still think the laws are creating a “nanny state,” where the government has too much say in personal decisions, like what we choose to feed our children. Additionally, schools with lower food budgets may have little choice but to serve processed foods in their cafeterias.

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Even though the effect was not dramatic, many parents and health experts saw the bans as a positive improvement. “What are the downsides of improving the food environment for children today?” Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, asked the AP. “You can't get much worse than it already is.”

What do you think of junk food laws in public schools? Does your state have them? Leave a comment.