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February 10 2012

Dueling Obesity Studies

Julie Gunlock

A new study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine surveyed nearly 4,000 public and private elementary schools from 2006 to 2010 and found school kids have ready access to vending machines, snack bars, school stores and a la carte lines which sell “unhealthy” snack foods.  Based on these findings, the study’s authors recommended that schools begin providing “healthier foods and beverages” so that schools are brought into compliance with government-created nutritional recommendations. 

Of course, there’s a difference between access and consumption. 

Another new study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and published in the January issue of Sociology of Education, found weight gain has nothing to do with the candy, soda, chips, and other junk food they can purchase at school.  That study used weight data from 20,000 children and found that while the majority of the children in their study attended schools that sold “junk” food, there was no rise in the percentage of students who were overweight or obese. In fact, despite the increased availability of junk food, the percentage of students who were overweight or obese actually decreased from fifth grade to eighth grade, from 39.1 percent to 35.4 percent.

The researchers were so shocked by what they found that they actually delayed publishing their findings for two years. One researcher explained the delay, saying “we kept looking for a connection that just wasn’t there.”  The researchers were forced to admit that instead of eating these items at school, kids were consuming these snack foods at home, and elsewhere.

This is just more evidence that parents makes the difference when it comes to the obesity riddle.  Banning vending machines, snack foods, and certain ingredients will do nothing to make kids healthier.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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