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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Good for you, Sue

General Assembly OKs legislation that forbids the advertising of unhealthy foods in schools

Image result for twinkies vintage adThe General Assembly gave approval to legislation sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown) and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would forbid the advertising of unhealthy foods to children in schools. The measure now heads to the governor’s office.

The bill (2018-S 2350A, 2018-H 7419A) 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.

“The next step in this public health crisis, which is long overdue, is to promote healthy eating habits,” said Representative McNamara. “That cannot be done when children are bombarded all day long with advertisements for junk food. Childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.”

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.