ANN ARBOR, Mich., Sept. 3 (UPI) — Students who eat foods and beverages sold in school outside of the school lunch program may have a higher risk of obesity, U.S. researchers say.
Study author Dr. Madhuri Kakarala of the University of Michigan Medical School and colleagues examined foods sold in school stores, snack bars and vending machines that compete with the U.S. Department of Agriculture school lunch program.
The researchers analyzed data from 2,309 children in grades 1-12 from schools nationwide. Interviewers administered questionnaires to obtain 24-hour food intake data.
The study, published in the Journal of School Health, finds that among those surveyed, 22 percent of school children consumed competitive or vending machine food items in a school day — with the highest percentage in high school, where 88 percent of schools had vending machines, compared to 52 percent of middle schools and 16 percent of elementary schools.
Students who consumed foods outside of the school lunch had significantly higher sugar intake and lower dietary fiber, vitamin B levels and iron intake than non-consumers of competitive foods.
More than two-thirds of beverages sold in school vending machines and stores were soft drinks, while desserts and fried snacks were the most commonly consumed vending machine items among elementary school children. Beverages other than milk and fruit juice were the most commonly consumed items among middle- and high-school students.
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