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School Vending Machines Still Offer Too Many Sugary Snacks

Half of Elementary School Students Have Access to Foods With Little Nutritional Value

Differences Between Schools continued...

In addition, researchers say there were important regional differences. Students in the South had more access to competitive food venues and salty and sweet products than those in other regions of the U.S.

“However, among public school students with access to competitive foods, those in the South also had greater availability of healthier foods compared with students in the Midwest or the West,” write the researchers. “These results are intriguing considering that childhood obesity rates are highest in the South.”

In an editorial that accompanies the study, experts say the results highlight that limiting access to competitive food venues in schools is only one of many strategies needed to fight childhood obesity.

“Competitive foods are often low in nutritional value and high in sugar, fat, and calories,” writes Thomas N. Robinson, MD, MPH of Stanford University School of Medicine. “Their availability may increase stigmatization of and decrease participation in the school meal program, and they send mixed messages about healthful nutrition.”

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