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USDA to issue new guidelines limiting amount of sugar, salt, and fat in foods sold at public schools

Tuesday, May 01, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: USDA, nutrition guidelines, public schools

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(NaturalNews) Pressure from consumer and non-profit groups to eliminate all forms of "junk" food from public school lunch rooms across America has led the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pursue drastic new food restriction measures that are set to be enacted this summer. According to Reuters, the USDA is poised to ban chips, soda pop, candy bars, and many other sugary, salty, high-fat foods from not only school cafeterias, but also from campus vending machines.

The plan is designed to restrict children's access, as much as possible, to foods that are considered largely unhealthy, and replace these foods with healthier alternatives. And based on a nationwide poll involving more than 1,000 parents, at least 80 percent are supportive of such restrictions, while only 17 percent are opposed.

Conducted by the advocacy group Kids' Safe & Healthful Foods Project, the survey found that more than 80 percent of American adults are concerned about childhood obesity, while 83 percent feel as though the food sold in campus vending machines is unhealthy. Sixty-eight percent of those polled also said they believe the food served in school cafeterias is unhealthy as well.

"We look forward to working with parents, teachers, school food service professionals and the food industry to craft workable guidelines so that healthier options are available for our students," said USDA Secretary Kevin Concannon about the upcoming changes, which will revise standards that are more than 30 years old.

Proposed changes may be a start, but do not go nearly far enough

According to the Kids' Safe & Healthful Foods Project, the goal is to increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy items that children eat while restricting access to foods like French fries, pizza, and ice cream that are high in fat, sugar, and calories. And the USDA appears to be onboard with this general framework, having announced similar goals back in January as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/01/25/healthy-meals-and-healthy-kids/).

But even these proposed guidelines are flawed, as they fail to address the importance of children consuming organic, chemical-free produce as opposed to conventional produce, for instance, and whole grains that are not derived from genetically-modified (GM) crops. And the idea that low-fat foods are healthy for children is also false, as healthy fats are actually vital for promoting good health and preventing disease (http://www.naturalnews.com).

To simply lump "sugar," "fat," and "calories" into one giant category of "junk" food, in other words, is a grave and shortsighted error. Unrefined, whole sugars can actually have a legitimate place in a healthy diet, as can healthy fats, including saturated fats, from proper sources. Coconut oil is just one example of a health-promoting saturated fat that will likely be restricted under the new guidelines simply because it is saturated.

Modern concepts of health and nutrition are still outdated

So while both the Kids' Safe & Healthful Foods Project and the USDA claim that the updated guidelines will address childhood obesity, the foundation upon which the revisions are being made still rely on outdated concepts of health and nutrition.

Even with the updates, children will still be exposed to toxic pesticide and herbicide residues on their fruit and vegetables, GMOs in their whole grains, and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in their low-fat milk. So even if they happen to lose some weight on this new diet, schoolchildren will still be exposed to these and other disease-causing toxins.

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