Should the government impose restrictions on what kinds of foods can be served in school cafeterias?

what kinds of foods can be served in school cafeterias

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In 2014, sports drinks and sweet bars with a high content of calories disappeared from vending machines, installed in the US schools, as well as from the menu of school cafeterias. Diet drinks, cereal bars, and other more healthy food appeared instead. On June 27, 2013, the US Department of Agriculture announced that it introduces restrictions on the content of fat, calories, sugar and sodium in food, which are sold during school hours in all public schools.

This affected snacks sold by school vending machines, as well as those included in complex breakfasts in school restaurants. The new rules, introduced in February 2013 and finally adopted a bit later, also allow states to monitor the sale of baked goods to schoolchildren. These norms, introduced in accordance with the Law on Nutrition of Children, adopted by the Congress in 2010, are part of the government’s attempts to solve the problem of childhood obesity. In the future, these norms will allow changing the diet of children in schools.

Although some schools already made changes in the menu of school restaurants and vending machines, the rest continued to sell snacks with high-fat content and calories. The current regulations allowed to regulate the nutritional value of free and budgeted breakfasts and lunches subsidized by the federal government, but in many school cafeterias there are departments, where students can buy what they like and where more fatty foods, such as cheese sticks, are sold. According to the new rules, these departments can sell more healthy pizza, low-fat burgers, fruit salads, yogurts and other dishes that met new standards.

One of the major changes that entailed the introduction of new norms were an almost complete ban on the sale of high-calorie sports drinks in schools. After the health officials began to actively combat the sale of high-calorie carbonated beverages by vending machines, the producers were forced to replace them with sports drinks. According to these rules, only drinks, containing few calories can be sold in secondary schools. This allowed to excluding high-calorie beverages from the ration of schoolchildren.

Many companies already developed sports drinks with a low-calorie content, for example, Gatorade G2. In addition, a lot of dietary teas and carbonated drinks are on sale. In primary schools, it became possible to sell only carbonated and non-carbonated water, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices, low-fat milk, and skimmed milk with different flavors.

Another feature of the new rules was that the government wanted not only to reduce the sales of unhealthy food but also to increase the sales of healthy food. According to the new norms, in the diet of schoolchildren should be more whole grains, dairy products with low-fat content, fruits, vegetables and lean protein.