Obama administration announces new restrictions on marketing unhealthy food in schools

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Not only is the Obama administration capping what students can eat it is also limiting what kinds of food advertisements they can see in school as well.

The White House and Department of Agriculture revealed new rules Tuesday to phase out junk food advertisements on school campuses and ensure that any marketing is in line with its healthy standards.

“The idea here is simple — our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” first lady Michelle Obama, who has been spending the week celebrating the fourth anniversary of her anti-obesity Let’s Move! campaign, said in a statement.

“Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school,” she added.

According to the White House ensuring that junk food is not marketed to children is on of the first lady’s “top priorities.”

The Associated Press reports that the regulations mean, for example, a high school scoreboard will not be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, but will be allowed to advertise Diet Coke and Dasani Water.

The restrictions on campus advertising come following the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandated USDA regulations requiring healthy school meals.

“The new standards ensure that schools remain a safe place where kids can learn and where the school environment promotes healthy choices. USDA is committed to working closely with students, parents, school stakeholders and the food and beverage industries to implement the new guidelines and make the healthy choice, the easy choice for America’s young people,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added.

Despite the fact that 90 percent of marketing in schools is related to beverages, the American Beverage Association is backing the new rules, applauding the first lady Tuesday for her effort to encourage healthier students.

“Mrs. Obama’s efforts to continue to strengthen school wellness make sense for the well-being of our schoolchildren,” said ABA President and CEO Susan Neely said in a statement. “Our industry helped lead the way with our voluntary national School Beverage Guidelines, which removed full-calorie soft drinks, cut beverage calories in schools nationwide by 90 percent, and set the stage for the USDA’s regulations that take effect in schools this July. Now, we look forward to working with the USDA on their proposed rule to align food and beverage signage in schools with the new regulations as the logical next step.”

In conjunction with the new advertising regulations the Obama administration is also announcing a nationwide expansion of its pilot program to provide free lunches and breakfasts to all students in 22,000 schools that serve primarily low-income students.

“This will help as many as 9 million American children eat healthy meals at school, especially breakfast, which can have profound impacts on educational achievement,” the White House said it its announcement.

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