Out of Balance: A Look at Snack Foods in Secondary Schools across the States

Quick Summary

How healthy are the snack foods sold in secondary schools via vending machines, school stores and snack bars? A recent report on unhealthy snack foods published by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project—a collaboration between The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—suggests the issue could be more than bite-sized.


Out of Balance: A Look at Snack Foods in Secondary Schools across the States
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Based on a comprehensive analysis of the data included in this report, findings from our earlier HIA, and related research, the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project urges USDA to issue science-based nutrition standards for all foods and beverages served and sold in schools. The project makes the following recommendations.

Recommendation 1:

USDA should establish nutrition standards for all snack foods sold regularly on school grounds outside of the school meal programs. For secondary schools, these standards should include:

  • a requirement that schools sell healthier items from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans list of foods to encourage;
  • age-appropriate calorie limits for items sold individually;
  • a maximum total calorie limit on sugar and fats;
  • incremental reductions in sodium over 10 years to achieve full alignment with the Dietary Guidelines • for Americans; and
  • restrictions on calories and serving size for all beverages. 

Recommendation 2:

USDA should adopt policies and practices that ensure effective implementation of the standards. At a minimum, USDA should:

  • ensure that nutrition standards are kept up to date with future iterations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; and
  • collaborate with states and nongovernmental organizations to monitor the implementation of the standards and share the results publicly.

    Download the report to read the full section
Date added:
Nov 1, 2012

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