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There's less junk food in schools, the CDC says

October 5, 2009 |  6:23 pm

Soda, chips, candy -- sure, they're everywhere, but in in the nation's schools, they're no longer quite as plentiful as they were, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Read it here.)

States with the biggest improvements -- no surprise -- were ones that "have adopted strong school nutrition standards and policies for foods and beverages sold outside school meal programs," according to a summary of the report.

The report, which examines changes in 2002 through 2008, also found:

1) Of 34 states that collected data, the average number of secondary schools that didn't sell soda or fruit drinks that weren't 100% juice went from 38% in 2006  to 64% in 2008.

Mississippi and Tennessee did best, increasing to 75% from 22% (Mississippi) and to 74% from 27% (Tennessee).

2) The average number of schools (in the 40 states that provided data) that "did not sell candy or salty snacks not low in fat" increased from 46% in 2002 to 64% in 2008.

So how's California doing? From our state, there are no trends over time listed in the report for either drinks or snacks -- presumably because the state did not provide the data to the School Health Profiles, the voluntary survey sent to principals and/or lead health education teachers.

However, California's 2008 data are listed. We are among the states in which more than two-thirds of secondary schools don't sell the items mentioned above. (The others are Hawaii, Connecticut and Maine.)

In Utah, Kansas, Idaho and Nebraska, that number is less than one-third.

Improvement? Sure. But we're really not sure how stringent "salty snacks not low in fat" might be as a yardstick for healthful fare -- one wonders how many unnecessary, non-nutritious snacks those criteria still allow.

A lot, we're guessing.

-- Rosie Mestel