Guess what? Kids will eat less junk food if schools take it out of their vending machines. That’s what a group of Yale University researchers found in a two-year study involving six Connecticut middle schools.
That conclusion may seem obvious but it goes to the heart of one argument that junk-food manufacturers use to keep their products in schools. The “forbidden fruit” argument maintains that students will just gorge themselves on junk food at home if they’re prohibited from buying unhealthy goodies at school.
For this study, Marlene Schwartz, the deputy director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, and her colleagues periodically surveyed students at three middle schools that replaced the soda, potato chips and sugary snacks in their vending machines with healthier treats, such as water, baked chips, 100-percent fruit juice, pretzels and canned fruit, and three in which the vending-machine fare was unchanged.
What they found was that kids at the experimental schools ate less junk food at school and no more than usual at home, resulting in a net reduction in non-nutritious food consumption.
The study was published this month in the journal Health Education and Behavior and you can read more about here. It sounds to me like good ammunition for a campaign somewhere to take unhealthy snacks out of school.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.