About half of US children still have access to unhealthy vending machines at school

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that research published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine suggests that approximately “half of kids surveyed from public and private school had ready access to vending machines, snack bars, school stores and a la carte lines.”

The Washington Post reports, “The study, based on mail-back surveys from about 3,900 public and private elementary schools nationwide, found that about half of the students could buy foods in one or more competitive venues during the 2009-10 school year. Access to these foods did not change significantly during the 2006-07 through 2009-10 school years.”

The AP reports that “schools most likely to sell chips, cookies or similar foods were in the South, where obesity rates are the highest; these foods were scarcest at schools in the West.”

The findings “are concerning,” researcher Lindsey Turner “said, because they show that many schools have not heeded messages from health advocates including the Institute of Medicine, which in a 2007 report urged limiting availability of food in schools outside of mealtimes, and said these items should not be sugary, salty or fatty snack foods.”

HealthDay reports, “Increasing awareness of the problem helps, but Turner pointed out that without regulation a lot of schools won’t change their policies.”

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