Posted Aug 13, 2012 10:09 am CDT
Children who live in states with strict laws that regulate snacks and sugary drinks offered in public schools gained less weight over a three-year period, according to a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.
The study of so-called competitive foods, foods that compete with regular meals, found an association between healthier adolescent weight and laws targeting snacks sold in vending machines and snack bars, the New York Times reports.
The Times notes that the study’s results are likely to fuel the debate over effective ways to reduce obesity rates, which have been on the rise since the 1980s.
In the study, weight changes of about 6,300 children in 5th through 8th grade were tracked in 40 states between 2004 and 2007. Results were then compared with legislation in states considered to have no laws, weak laws or strong laws regulating competitive foods.
Though the study’s authors stopped short of concluding that strong snack laws were responsible for better weight, the correlation was substantial, the Times notes.
“Competitive-food laws can have an effect on obesity rates if the laws are specific, required and consistent,” one author, Daniel Taber, a fellow at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Chicago, who was one of the authors of the study, is quoted saying.