Michelle Obama: ‘Competitive Foods’ in School Should Be Limited

Penny Starr | October 2, 2012 | 11:22am EDT
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Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, has lunch with students at Eagle School in Martinsburg, W.Va. on May 5, 2009. The Obama administration is sponsoring a contest to find healthy, kid-tested foods to be added to the nation's school lunch menu. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The website promoting First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to combat childhood obesity advises parents to limit “opportunities for children to purchase competitive foods.”

The website warns parents about “competitive food” – food available to children on campus that falls outside of the federally regulated cafeteria food.

“Foods and beverages provided through school breakfast, lunch and afterschool snack programs must meet certain nutritional rules to receive federal money,” the website states. “However, kids can purchase non-nutritious foods in place of these meals. Many schools sell foods outside of the USDA school meals–in the cafeterias, snack bars and vending machines–that are not subject to federal rules.

“These foods are called ‘competitive foods’ because they compete with healthier school meals. Foods commonly available in these venues include cookies, crackers, pastries and other high-fat baked goods, as well as salty snacks and sugar-sweetened drinks.

“Opportunities for children to purchase competitive foods should be limited in schools,” the web site states. “If competitive foods are available, they should consist primarily of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.

The advice is one of five “Simple Steps to Success” for parents to take action on food and physical activity in their children’s school, including encouraging them to form a “school health team.”

“The school environment strongly affects the behavior, health and well-being of children,” the website states on forming a school health team. “Parents can help schools create an environment that will encourage a child’s overall academic success by taking action to encourage healthy meal options and physical activity programs,” the website states on forming a school health team.”

 “A school health team or similar organization can help establish policies that implement the nutritional standards for foods sold outside of school meals,” the website states.

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