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Cut out junk food ads in schools, government says

First lady Michelle Obama recites a "wrap" song written by students from George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., about healthy eating as she announced proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies during an event in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

First lady Michelle Obama recites a "wrap" song written by students from George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., about healthy eating as she announced proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies during an event in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

It’s not just about what America’s kids are getting in the lunch line.

The Obama administration is moving to phase out junk food advertising on football scoreboards and elsewhere on school grounds – part of a broad effort to combat child obesity and create what Michelle Obama calls “a new norm” for today’s schoolchildren and future generations.

“This new approach to eating and activity is not just a fad,” the first lady said yesterday as she described the proposed rules at the White House.

Promotion of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day would be phased out under the U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, which are intended to ensure that marketing is brought in line with health standards that already apply to food served by public schools.

That means a scoreboard at a high school football or basketball game eventually wouldn’t be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, for example, though it could advertise Diet Coke or Dasani water, also owned by Coca-Cola Co. Same with the front of a vending machine. Cups, posters and menu boards that promote foods that don’t meet federal standards would also be phased out.

Ninety-three percent of such marketing in schools is related to beverages. And many soda companies already have started to transition their sales and advertising in schools from sugary sodas and sports drinks to other products they produce. Companies are spending $149 million a year on marketing to kids in schools, according to the agriculture department.

The announcement at the White House was part of a week of events marking the fourth anniversary of the first lady’s “Let’s Move” program. Obama also traveled to Miami yesterday to announce that the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Recreation and Park Association will serve more fruits and vegetables at after-school programs and ensure kids get 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day.

The proposed school marketing rules come on the heels of federal regulations that now require food in school lunch lines to be more healthful than in the past.

Separate rules, which are to go into effect in September, will cover other food item in schools as well, including in vending machines and “a la carte” lines in the lunch room. Calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits now will have to be met on almost every food and beverage sold during the school day, as mandated by a 2010 child nutrition law.

Even though diet sodas would be allowed in high schools under the proposed rules announced yesterday, the rules don’t address the question raised by some as to whether those drinks are actually healthful alternatives to sugary soda.

Some healthful-food rules have come under fire from conservatives who say the government shouldn’t dictate what kids eat – and from some students who don’t like the new alternatives.

Obama defended herself against critics, saying, “I didn’t create this issue.” She said kids will eventually get used to the changes.

“That’s our job as parents, to hold steady through the whining,” she said.

Aware of the backlash, the agriculture department is allowing schools to make some of their own decisions on what constitutes marketing and is asking for comments on some options. For example, the proposal asks for comments on initiatives like Pizza Hut’s “Book It” program, which coordinates with schools to reward kids with pizza for reading.

Rules for other school fundraisers, such as bake sales and marketing for those events, would be left up to schools or states.

Off-campus fundraisers, such as an event at a local fast-food outlet that benefits a school, still would be permitted. But posters advertising the fast food may not be allowed in school hallways. An email to parents – with or without the advertising – would have to suffice. The idea is to market to the parents, not the kids.

The rules also make allowances for major infrastructure costs – that scoreboard advertising Coca-Cola, for example, wouldn’t have to be immediately torn down. But the school would have to get one with a different message or product the next time it was replaced.

Schools that don’t want to comply could leave the National School Lunch Program, which allows schools to collect government reimbursements for free and low-cost lunches for students from low-income households in exchange for following certain standards. Very few schools choose to give up those government dollars, though.

The beverage industry – led by Coca-Cola Co., Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo – is on board with the new rules. American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely said in a statement that aligning signage with the more healthful drinks that will be offered in schools is the “logical next step.”

The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rules, which also would allow more children access to free lunches and ensure that schools have wellness policies in place.

The 2010 child nutrition law expanded food programs for hungry students. The rules being proposed yesterday would increase that even further by allowing the highest-poverty schools to serve lunch and breakfast to all students for free, with the cost shared between the federal government and the schools. According to the agriculture department and the White House, that initiative would allow 9 million children in 22,000 schools to receive free lunches.

The department already has tested the program in 11 states.

Legacy Comments26

Couldn't they have found a more flattering picture of our first lady?

LAWS on the books The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind is its ninth iteration), which intruded the federal government into this traditionally state and local responsibility, said “nothing in this act” shall authorize any federal official to “mandate, direct, or control” a state's, local educational agency's or school's curriculum. NObama hates laws.... that is why he refuses to enforce them or re-writes so many of them.

USA Today reported just two days ago that childhood obesity rates were down in 2-5 year old children 43% and in other groups down 8%. Beyond that a BMI of 25% is considered overweight. Michelle Obama's BMI is 24.4% so is she the right spokesperson for nutrition and weight control in children. Not a stellar example.

So obviously what she has been doing for the last five years is working.

When she started as first lady, her BMI was 24.

As I said, she is not obese in any definition of the word. She's not even overweight. Last I checked, 24.4 was less than 25. If you want to make the point that the spokesperson for anti-obesity is pushing the boundary of normal vs. overweight, then say so. Don't go on a rant and call her obese. It completely detracts from the legitimate statement you could have made.

"When she started as first lady, her BMI was 24. " I think tillie was talking about the reduction in childhood obesity, not her own weight. I don't see any problem with the spokesperson being someone who struggles with weight herself. She's better able to relate to the issue. It's like Alcohol & Drug counselors. Most of them are former alcoholics and drug users. I'd rather get healthy eating advice from someone who's "been there, done that," than a skinny-minny who's never had trouble saying no to a doughnut.

Besides, BMI isn't a good indication of health. My doctor's always told me it's more about your WAIST than your WEIGHT. Muscle weighs more than fat and athletes routinely have BMI's that would be considered "high" on the chart. Heck at my age and with my height I'm supposed to be under 190. I haven't been 190 since college. I'm about 20 lbs north of that number but I'm actually in better shape now than I was when I was in college. You can't gauge a person's health by BMI alone.

Laura Bush had reading initiatives, Lady Bird planted roadside flowers, Nancy Reagan had "just say no" and bought china. If Michelle Obama didn't do anything, certain people would complain about that too.

Don't forget, Hillary tried to destroy the health care system. I can never understand how obese people can preach to us about the weight of our children. But Michelle is given so many passes.

don't forget what Hillary did to the White House and Air Force1 when she departed.

Why do you feel it necessary to make disparaging remarks about a woman's (Democrat) age, weight or looks?

If a person is going to talk the talk, they ought to walk the walk. I an not sure why I find it necessary, why do you find it necessary to disparage Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, tea party patriots, etc. every single day?

Michelle Obama is not obese by any definition of the word. She's a perfectly normal and healthy weight. Does someone have to be model-thin in order to talk to you about healthy eating? Those ultra thin women are NOT models of healthy eating, you know. They are keeping their weight below a healthy standard in order to appeal to the current (and stupid) standard of beauty that the country seems to be embracing.

I wonder how many people know Michelle"s BMI? Not only now but when she became First Lady? Weird.

there is a thingy called google

Right, and you and your fellow cohorts would be lost without it. Itsa's obsession with Michelle's BMI is weird. But then all you right wingers have a problem with women in power and need to diminish them at every opportunity.

Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. One should ask Moochelle where in the Constitution she gets the power to do this

Where does she get the power to do anything? Nobody elected her to anything. BTW, I'm glad O'Bummer is stuck with that witch, not me.

Michelle Obama is the face of the long-overdue reforms. She's not "doing anything" other than being the very public face of the initiative. It's long past time for the food industry to market more responsibly and make their own products more healthy. Healthier lunch and snack choices will go a long way to reducing the obesity epidemic afflicting children in the U.S.

not ....Not....NOT a govt Job. maybe in the socialists world but not in Real America

The obesity issue has nothing to do with marketing. What it has to do with is the parents setting an example at home what they serve their kids. If junk food is not in the home, kids cannot eat it. Anything kids do is a reflection of what they have learned at home period. If a kid uses bad language, where the heck do you think they learned that? If a kid has bad manners and mouths off, where did they learn that? If a kid is overweight and eats junk food, where did they learn that? But the theory now is that schools need to take over all the parenting roles. And by doing that, we will have more parents who will not parent. They do not have to. And you tell me, by doing that has our education system gotten better?

Crank, I can't wait until school vacation is over. The daily diatribe should slow down.

Hey itsa . . . wanna know what I did on my "vacation?" 6 hours of pep band games, 16 hours of musical rehearsals, 3 hours of band rehearsals and one gig. And you anti-education folks cry about us being underworked and overpaid - LOL!!!

That was not aimed at you Dan, we know the quality of your performance at school, it is talked about and you are highly respected. Other teachers took the week to post diatribes here all week. Dedicated teachers deserve more pay that is why I always call for "pay for performance" in education.

The message to lousy parents is quite simple. The schools will provide. No need for them to be required to read to their kid, a reading tutor will be provided. Your kid cannot sit still in school, an aide will be provided. Your kid cannot get along well with others, a shrink will be provided. You cannot make a lunch, that will be provided. Basically you pretty much have told lousy parents they are off the hook. No involvement by them is required. The school has it covered.

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