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New U.S. Nutrition Rules for School Foods

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WebMD News from HealthDay

Lower limits on the amount of fat, calories, sugar and salt in all foods sold in U.S. schools were finalized this week by federal officials.

Included in the new Department of Agriculture restrictions are snacks sold around the school and items on the "a la carte" line in cafeterias, which have never been regulated before, the Associated Press reported.

The new rules, which apply to 100,000 schools nationwide, allow states to regulate student bake sales.

The regulations -- required under a child nutrition law passed by Congress in 2010 -- are meant to combat childhood obesity and could lead to major changes in what many children eat at school, according to the AP.

Some schools do provide healthier lunch menus and vending machine choices, but others still sell high-fat, high-calorie foods. The nutritional content of free and low-cost school breakfasts and lunches subsidized by the federal government are already regulated. However, many school lunchrooms also have "a la carte" lines that sell other foods, many of which are unhealthy.

Under the new rules, those "a la carte" lines will have to offer healthier choices, such as low-fat hamburgers, yogurt and fruit cups, the AP reported.

Another major change under the new rule will be a near-ban on high-calorie beverages. Only sports drinks and sodas that contain 60 calories or less per 12-ounce serving will be allowed in high schools. Many companies have already developed low-calorie sports drinks and many diet teas and diet sodas are available.

In elementary and middle schools, beverage choices will be limited to water, carbonated water, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, and low fat and fat-free milk, including fat-free flavored milks, the AP reported.

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