It turns out that allowing kids and families to (gasp!) make their own choices doesn’t lead to obesity, a new study has revealed.
In my own children’s school, not only is casual consumption of home lunches with ingredients deemed “unhealthy” verboten, but this year a draconian policy was enacted prohibiting birthday cupcakes and parties within the walls of the gulag. Instead of the one cupcake a week average children were consuming to celebrate occasions in the past- as well as holiday parties- kids are now escorted down to the office, where they receive a junk food-free pencil in solitude to mark their birthdays. I am not making this up.
While you may come down on one side or the other of the junk food in schools debate, it has also been indicated by studies that sugar has little to no effect on the hyperactivity of children- which means that policies micromanaging what kids put in their mouths as well as the presence of junk food “police” are an attention-sapping waste of time in schools. The study, published in the journal Sociology of Education, accounted for several factors when determining the effect of allowing junk food- referred to in the study as “competitive food”- in schools:
Employing fixed effects models and a natural experimental approach, they found that children’s weight gain between fifth and eighth grades was not associated with the introduction or the duration of exposure to competitive food sales in middle school. Also, the relationship between competitive foods and weight gain did not vary significantly by gender, race/ethnicity, or family socioeconomic status, and it remained weak and insignificant across several alternative model specifications.
One possible cause cited in the study were firmly established snacking habits by the time a child was in the fifth grade or older.