Junk Food Laws May Actually Improve Childhood Obesity Rates, Study Finds
“Junk food” laws are often not well-received by society, as while overall they contribute to the common good, they also take away a small, remaining bit of parental agency even if parents may not always make perfect choices for their children.
But junk food laws, however controversial, may have one thing going for them — apparently, they work. A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics is the first to examine the effects of junk food laws affecting schools as well as the net impact on a population of children that is suffering from increased weight gain overall and the resultant health problems from decreased physical activity and increased caloric intake, and the research supports the case for creating junk food laws in the first place.
First Lady Michelle Obama has come under fire for her initiatives in combating childhood obesity, with Republican former VP candidate Sarah Palin bringing trays of cookies to school kids in defiance of Mrs. Obama’s work in fighting poor nutrition among schoolkids.
But while junk food laws are seen as oppressive and a form of nanny statism, the restrictions are somewhat efficient. HealthDay spoke to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Daniel Taber of the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Taber explained that math supports the creation of junk food laws, as over time, kids who were subject to the restrictions did indeed gain less weight:
“Students who went to a school with strong laws in fifth grade gained, on average, 0.25 fewer BMI units over the three years than students in schools with no such laws… It is difficult to translate that to pounds, Taber said. Roughly, it would be 1.25 fewer pounds for a 5-foot-tall child who started out at 100 pounds in 2003.”
The junk food laws study appeared on the web on August 13, and will be published in the September print edition of Pediatrics.