In November, Congress passed a bill requiring the agriculture department to continue to count tomato paste on pizzas as a vegetable, the AP reported.
"Making healthier pizza is a great idea. However, it is unfortunate and rather ridiculous that Congress still thinks tomato paste is a vegetable," said dietitian Samantha Heller, clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn.
Congress also refused to allow the USDA to limit servings of potatoes. Those congressional directions must be incorporated into the final rule, the AP reported.
The news service said that potato growers, companies that make frozen pizzas for schools and others in the food industry lobbied for the changes made by Congress, and that conservatives said the government shouldn't be telling children what to eat.
Some school districts objected to some of the requirements, saying they went too far and would cost too much, the AP said.
Katz said, "It is unacceptable that food industry elements lobbied Congress successfully for changes in nutrition standards that placed profits ahead of children's health.
"The argument that we cannot afford to do even better is spurious, because it leaves us needing to afford the treatment of type 2 diabetes in children. It leaves us needing to pay for bariatric surgery in adolescents," he added.
Still, the changes signal some progress, Katz said. "We should not expect it to change childhood obesity rates. School lunch was never the cause of epidemic obesity, and improving it will not be the cure. But school lunch has long been part of the problem and these improved standards will help make it one part of a comprehensive solution, now long overdue," he said.
Heller rejected the argument th
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