Poll: Americans favor limiting sale of unhealthy foods in school

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed such a policy as part of its mandate to raise school nutritional standards stemming from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The proposal aims to prevent students from foregoing cafeteria food in favor of “foods of minimal nutritional value” that may be offered in snack bars and elsewhere on school grounds. The public has until early April to comment on the proposed regulations.

The new Gallup poll, conducted March 8-9, also finds a smaller majority of Americans, 57%, favor such laws when the question specifies that the nutritional standards for school meals would also apply to food sold in vending machines, snack bars, and at bake sales. This wording was asked of a separate half sample of respondents.

Notably, public-school parents are less likely than nonpublic school parents to favor the policy when it specifically mentions the outlets for so-called “competitive foods” — vending machines, snack bars, and bake sales — that USDA nutritional guidelines would cover.