In another attempt to stem the tide of childhood obesity rates, the FDA has announced that beginning in 2014-2015 school year, schools across the country must provide snack fare that is low in fat and sodium. The ruling will limit vending machine snacks to 200 calories per item and soda and sports drinks down to 60 calories per 12 ounces. These new standards are the result of the passage of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act in 2010.
According to various studies over the past few years, these healthy changes will indeed produce positive results. In a study published by the University of Southern California, 54 overweight Latinos took part in a 4 month study; more than 55 percent of the kids decreased their sugar intake by the equivalent of one can of soda (47 grams of sugar). This small lifestyle change resulted in healthier blood sugar levels and an increase in fiber intake, which resulted in a loss of 10% of visceral fat (fat that covers internal organs).
Another study in 2009 conducted by Amika Singh of the VU University Medical Center in Amersterdam showed similar results. 1108 adolescents were placed in an 11 month program consisting of 11 classes on nutrition and physical education; a majority of the students cut down their soda consumption by 10 ounces per day. At the end of the day, Sing and her colleagues discovered that the kids who limited their soft drinks didn’t “trade up” by consuming more snacks to make up for the calorie differential.
The news regarding childhood obesity has been altogether grim over the last few years. Purportedly, 1 out of every 5 preschoolers is considered obese, while the average adolescent drinks 235 empty, sugar-laden calories per day. But the results of the above mentioned childhood obesity studies have shown that these trends can be reversed, and with the support and implementation of the new FDA regs, further reversal may be forthcoming.