A research team analyzing the impacts of two California laws that target “competitive food and beverages” – including food sold on campus from vending machines and snack bars – has published a report. The first law went into effect in 2004; it prohibited the sale of sugary beverages and higher-fat milk to students in K-8. The second law, implemented in 2007, set limits on the amount of fat and sugar contained in snack foods sold on campus.
Since the laws limiting access to junk food on campuses were enacted, students’ risk of “becoming overweight or obese fell slightly”…but those gains were more apparent if they came from wealthier neighborhoods.
…the growth in obesity rate was virtually halted or reversed in the period after the two laws went into effect than it had been in earlier years, suggesting that the policies on competitive foods had a positive, if modest, effect.
“Even small reductions in overweight/obesity can have large impacts for the population as a whole,” said study leader Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh, a health policy researcher at San Francisco State University.
Other experts said the improvements were encouraging.