School Snack Food Restrictions on Sugar and Fat

In many states, concern over childhood obesity and poor nutrition has prompted legislation restricting sales of food in schools. One state assembly recently approved a ban on foods that list sugar as the first ingredient and snacks containing more than 8 g fat. 

Improving the nutrition of food choices for students is a worthwhile goal, but legislating strict quantitative cut-offs will not necessarily result in healthier foods. In the example above, a food that lists flour first, then 3 different kinds of sugar, most likely has more sugar than flour, but still will be deemed acceptable. It is crucial to understand how the ingredient labeling rules work before making blanket restrictions. As for banning snacks with more than 8 grams of fat per serving, that will eliminate nut mixes, which provide “good” fats, as well as protein, fiber and minerals important in a healthy, balanced diet. It will, though, allow reduced fat chips, which provide fewer significant nutrients.

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