SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

February 28, 2014

Cut out junk food ads in schools, feds say

(Continued)

The proposed school marketing rules come on the heels of federal regulations that now require food in school lunch lines to be more healthful than in the past.

Separate rules, which are to go into effect in September, will cover other food around school, as well, including in vending machines and “a la carte” lines in the lunch room. Calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits now will have to be met on almost every food and beverage sold during the school day, as mandated by a 2010 child nutrition law.

Even though diet sodas would be allowed in high schools under the proposed rules announced Tuesday, the rules don’t address the question raised by some as to whether those drinks are actually healthful alternatives to sugary soda.

Some healthful-food rules have come under fire from conservatives who say the government shouldn’t dictate what kids eat — and from some students who don’t like the new alternatives.

Mrs. Obama defended herself against critics, saying that “I didn’t create this issue.” She said kids will eventually get used to the changes.

“That’s our job as parents, to hold steady through the whining,” she said.

Aware of the backlash, the Agriculture Department is allowing schools to make some of their own decisions on what constitutes marketing and is asking for comments on some options. For example, the proposal asks for comments on initiatives like Pizza Hut’s “Book It” program, which coordinates with schools to reward kids with pizza for reading.

Rules for other school fundraisers, like bake sales and marketing for those events, would be left up to schools or states.

Off-campus fundraisers, like an event at a local fast-food outlet that benefits a school, still would be permitted. But posters advertising the fast food may not be allowed in school hallways.

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