The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010 set national standards for school cafeterias. What it didn’t address is what food and drink can be served in the classroom for such celebrations as birthday parties and Halloween. So should cupcakes and other sugary treats be banned there as well to help fight childhood obesity?
Maybe, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior by University of Illinois-Chicago researchers. The team, led by Lindsey Turner, surveyed more than 1,200 schools in 47 states. They found that about half the schools either had no restrictions on what was served at classroom parties or left it up to the teacher to decide. About one third of schools that responded said that there were school-wide recommendations that discouraged serving sugary treats in classrooms. Less than 10 percent banned sweets during holiday parties or did not allow parties.
The findings suggest that “policies can affect school practices, even when the policies are only recommendations,” said Turner, a research scientist at UIC’s Institute for Health Research and Policy.
“This is an overlooked aspect of the school food environment, and an important issue to address,” said Turner, who notes that over the course of a year, classroom parties can contribute a substantial amount of calories to a child’s daily intake. For that reason, national recommendations include limiting parties to one per month and serving only healthy food and beverages. It is also recommended that non-food items be offered in goody-bags and that incorporating non-food related party activities.
So what’s your take? Would you like to see more restrictions on food served in classrooms for parties? Or is this overkill? Leave your comments here, or e-mail me at email@example.com. I love getting e-mail and respond to as many messages as time permits.