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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Fighting junk food pushers

Senate passes Sosnowski bill that forbids the advertising of unhealthy foods in schools

french fries pizza GIFThe Rhode Island Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown) that would forbid the advertising of unhealthy foods to children in schools.

The bill (2018-S 2350A) would prohibit the advertising of unhealthy food and beverage products in schools, particularly those that may not be sold on the school campus during the school day, since they do not meet the minimum nutrition standards.

Senator Sosnowski sponsored the initial legislation in 2006 that required the phase-out of unhealthy drinks and snacks from all public schools in Rhode Island.

“Now that we have successfully removed junk food from our schools’ cafeterias and vending machines, we can focus more on the goal of improving dietary practices in our children,” said Senator Sosnowski. 

“To achieve that goal, it’s necessary to encourage healthy eating habits. The Department of Agriculture has found that educating children on nutrition goes a long way toward achieving the goal of healthy eating.”

Specifically, the legislation would forbid the advertising of food that does not meet the minimum nutritional standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. 

Advertising would be prohibited on any property or facility owned or leased by the school district or school and used at any time for school-related activities, including school buildings, athletic fields, facilities, signs, scoreboards, parking lots, school buses, equipment, vending machines, uniforms, educational material and supplies.

A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a dramatic increase in the number of obese children in the United States. 

The study found that more than 10 percent of preschool children between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight, up from 7 percent in 1994. 

Among children and teens ages 6 to 19, 15 percent (almost 9 million) are overweight, triple the figure that was reported in 1980. 

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2018-H 7419) has been introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).