While the Child Nutrition Act of 2004 tightened requirements to limit unhealthy foods in schools, "competitive foods"—such as candy, cookies, chips and soft drinks—offered in vending machines and snack bars are not required to comply with National School Lunch Program nutrition guidelines. State and local policy-makers have begun enacting additional school nutrition standards.
These researchers conducted three studies assessing the impact a 2007 California law that imposed fat, calorie and sugar limits to competitive foods. Data was collected from food and beverage sales, observation, and surveys of students and food service personnel in 99 schools.
While the California legislation was seen as effective in regulating competitive foods, strong policy changes are still needed to ensure that students are provided with genuinely healthy foods in all settings at school.