Schools are contributing to the childhood obesity problem by selling unhealthy snacks, new research has found.
A study by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that most of the country's secondary schools do not offer fruits and vegetables as snack options.
Fewer than half of secondary schools in 49 states sold fruits and vegetables in snack venues in 2010, according to the study. Chocolate, candy bars and chips were more common.
The researchers found that while many states reduced the availability of high-calorie snacks in secondary schools between 2002 and 2008, the efforts have since waned.
The authors of the study say their findings are further evidence of the need to regulate nutritional requirements on snack foods sold in schools.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon issue policies requiring that foods and beverages sold outside of the federal school meals program meet minimum nutrition standards. The USDA has already changed its nutritional guidelines on school lunches, but did not include snack items.
“The evidence is clear – schools can do this. Many states have made progress towards making healthier snacks available to students, but more must be done,” said project director Jessica Donze Black. “We urge USDA to adopt strong standards and help to put them into practice. All kids, no matter what school they attend, should have healthy snack choices at school.”