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January 2015

Considering the Potential Effect of Federal Policy on Childhood Obesity

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(1):15-16. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2325

The study by Terry-McElrath et al1 in the current issue of JAMA Pediatrics seeks to answer important, timely questions related to how the new federal policy issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) may affect the nutritional environment of US schools and childhood obesity rates. Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, schools participating in federally reimbursable meal programs are required to implement nutritional standards for foods and beverages sold in competitive venues, including à la carte cafeteria and snack lines, vending machines, and school stores. Using a nationally representative sample and well-established data collection tools and methods, Terry-McElrath et al1 report on (1) the presence of components of a healthy nutritional environment in schools and a summary score of those components in 824 middle schools and high schools; (2) the relationship between the nutritional environment and the overweight/obesity status of students in these schools; and (3) whether differences in the school nutritional environment and obesity risk relationship interact with socioeconomic status.

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