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Nation/World

February 28, 2014

Cut out junk food ads in schools, feds say

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not just about what America’s kids are getting in the lunch line.

The Obama administration is moving to phase out junk food advertising on football scoreboards and elsewhere on school grounds — part of a broad effort to combat child obesity and create what Michelle Obama calls “a new norm” for today’s schoolchildren and future generations.

“This new approach to eating and activity is not just a fad,” Mrs. Obama said Tuesday as she described the proposed rules at the White House.

Promotion of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day would be phased out under the Agriculture Department rules, which are intended to ensure that marketing is brought in line with health standards that already apply to food served by public schools.

That means a scoreboard at a high school football or basketball game eventually wouldn’t be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, for example, though it could advertise Diet Coke or Dasani water, also owned by Coca-Cola Co. Same with the front of a vending machine. Cups, posters and menu boards that promote foods that don’t meet federal standards would also be phased out.

Ninety-three percent of such marketing in schools is related to beverages. And many soda companies already have started to transition their sales and advertising in schools from sugary sodas and sports drinks to other products they produce. Companies are spending $149 million a year on marketing to kids in schools, according to the Agriculture Department.

The announcement at the White House was part of a week of events marking the fourth anniversary of the first lady’s “Let’s Move” program. Mrs. Obama also traveled to Miami Tuesday to announce that the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Recreation and Park Association will serve more fruits and vegetables at after-school programs and ensure kids get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day. NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler introduced the first lady.

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