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Limiting School Snacks Boosts Fruit, Veggie Consumption
Date:12/19/2008

The increase, while modest, was significant, study finds

FRIDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Restricting the availability of unhealthy snacks in elementary schools led to a small increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among fifth-graders, a new study found.

The roughly 3 percent increase in fruit and vegetable intake among those children in schools that restricted the availability of snacks was still significant, said study co-author Edward A. Frongillo, chairman of the University of South Carolina's department of health promotion, education and behavior.

When school policies limit the availability of high-fat and high-sugar snack foods, even a small percentage increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among fifth-graders means the policy may affect a fairly large number of children throughout the school, Frongillo said.

The findings were published in the January 2009 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

The study surveyed 10,285 fifth-graders at 2,065 elementary schools nationwide. School administrators reported on snack-restriction policies and snack availability from vending machines, school stores, snack bars and cafeterias.

The children themselves reported on their fruit and vegetable consumption for the entire day, not just during school hours and not just snacks.

"What the data are saying is that children's experience in one part of their day is having an impact on the whole of the day," Frongillo said. "The implication isn't that there are bad ways to provide food to children. The real issue is, are we modeling in the foods we make available to children what they should be eating?"

Lona Sandon, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, challenged that theory about children's eating habits.

"In elementary school, they really model [follow] what their parents are doing. Once they get into junior high, they may begin to make a little bit
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