How Can Healthier School Snacks and Beverages Improve Student Health and Help School Budgets?

Today, more than 23.5 million children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk for serious health problems and straining the health care system.

One of the main problem spots are in schools, where unhealth snacks and beverages are sold to students in à la carte lines, vending machines, and other venues. Policies that restrict sales of unhealthy snacks and beverages in schools can improve children’s diets, reduce weight gain, and increase food service revenues.

In 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was enacted to provide healthier foods and beverages in schools. The law charged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with updating nutrition standards for the National School Breakfast and National School Lunch programs and these standards were updated in early 2012. 

This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in February 2013, examines the way policies supporting healthy nutrition in schools can lead to improved student health.

Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.

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#students consume 35-50% of food at school, where they're often exposed to junk foods and sugary drinks