(Newswise) — Nevada now leads the nation when it comes to ensuring children are not bombarded with junk foods and junk food marketing on school property. The American Heart Association is thrilled to share that the Nevada Department of Agriculture recently adopted a new and robust School Wellness Policy that provides two key provisions that help our kids grow up healthy. First, all items sold to Nevada students on campus during the school day must now meet the Smart Snacks Nutrition Standard as established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, only marketing consistent with Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards is allowed at schools. This includes any advertising and other promotion on campus during the school day whether they are oral, written or visual. The AHA is proud to have partnered with Nevada in efforts to improve school health and recognize Nevada as one of the first states to reflect in public policy what 72 percent of parents are expecting from their schools, as noted in a pollreleased last month by The Pew Charitable Trusts. We are grateful to the Partners for a Healthy Nevada, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and to the leadership of the Nevada Department of Agriculture and its School Wellness Policy Taskforce Members. All of these partners played a critical role in this monumental step forward in ensuring the health of all Nevada school children.
The American Heart Association advocates for each state to ensure a healthy environment before, during and after school. This includes foods and beverages provided or sold by the school at breakfast, lunch and after-school programs as well as all efforts to promote or market foods and beverages on school campuses. For example, we call on all schools to reward students in reading programs with non-food items such as stickers instead of coupons to fast food restaurants. Eliminating this type of marketing in schools ensures students are not bombarded with incentives for high-fat and low-nutrient foods such as doughnuts, pizza and cheeseburgers.
A recent study published in Pediatrics found that children and teens in states with strong laws restricting the sale of less-healthy snack foods and beverages in school gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states without similar policies. In addition, research by Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods found that school districts that have healthier snack food and beverage policies saw their total food service revenues either increase or remain steady after the adoption of the standards.
There is every reason to provide children with the healthiest school food environment possible and no reason not to. Every state should follow Nevada’s lead.