Marketing Junk Food to Kids? First Lady Says 'No'

By Maggie Freleng

No more junk food--at least during school hours.  The July 1 deadline is approaching for all schools and food and beverage companies to comply to the "Smart Snacks in Schools" act implemented by the United States Department of Agriculture last June.

The act, the first school nutrition revamp in over 30 years, seeks to add healthier options in schools, replacing junk food like candy bars, doughnuts, and chips.

Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama has also proposed her own guidelines to this act, and suggests barring the marketing of junk food--since schools can no longer sell it. (It is theoretically possbile to display a soft drink ad on a vending machine that sells only water and real juice.)

According to the CDC, obesity affects about 17 percent of - or 12.5 million - children and adolescents in the country. During her time in the White House, the First Lady has lead a massive push to end childhood obesity, including her "Let’s Move" campaign encouraging kids to exercise.

Until April 28, the USDA is accepting comments on her marketing proposal. If you support it, you can let them know here.

USDA regulations for the "Smart Snacks in Schools" Act set limits not only for snacks, but lunches and beverages as well; it also includes limiting fat, salt, and sugar, and adding more whole grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables.

"Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement June 27, 2013.

"Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts."

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Photo: Colleen Proppe on Flickr/Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)