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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC Discusses Policies Related to Meals at School in JAMA Pediatrics

Dr. Leslie Lytle, professor and chair of health behavior at The University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, wrote an editorial, “Considering the Potential Effect of Federal Policy on Childhood Obesity”, that was published online November 17 in JAMA Pediatrics.

[Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture]

The article comments upon a paper, “Potential Impact of National School Nutritional Environment Policies Cross-sectional Associations With US Secondary Student Overweight/Obesity, 2008-2012, by Ms. Yvonne Terry-McElrath, et al., and appearing in the same issue of the journal.

Ms. Terry-McElrath and colleagues examine recent efforts of state and federal programs that provide breakfast and lunch to students.

Dr. Lytle discusses the buy-in by schools and subsequent effectiveness of these programs to date and made suggestions on how they can be more effective in the fight against childhood obesity.

“School administrators have been slow to adopt the belief and related policies and practices that unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, fat, and empty calories do not belong in a school and that providing fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain products throughout the school is important,” she said.

Dr. Lytle says that even though most schools have adopted the program, the transition will still need some encouragement.

“The new federal policy may be a carrot at the end of the stick that drives schools to make these important changes,” she said. “In addition to the stick-and-carrot, substantial tangible help in making the switch and incentives to sweeten the deal from state and federal sources are likely needed.”