Between 2007 and 2011, almost half of the surveyed public and private schools salty or sweet snacks sold in vending machines or elsewhere, with a minor change during those four years, the study found.
“The finding was surprising when taking into account strong local campaigns in favor of improving the diet of children,” said researcher Lindsey Turner, health psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lead author of the study.
The analysis focused on unsold sandwiches at mealtimes, which until recently were not subject to government nutrition standards.
It is more likely that schools sell chips, cookies or similar foods in the American South, where the highest rates of obesity. This type of processed foods were scarce in the west.
“The results are worrying,” said Turner, because they show that many schools have ignored the messages from health advocates, such as the Institute of Medicine, in a 2008 report called for limiting the availability of food in schools outside of meal times and added that these foods should not be sweetened, salty or greasy.
According to the new study, many schools also offered healthier foods outside mealtimes that included fruit and vegetables, but with selling junk food can make kids healthier options fail, besides sending messages “mixed on healthy nutrition, “said Dr. Thomas Robinson, a pediatrician at Stanford University and researcher on obesity prevention.
Recent data indicate that nearly 20% of children in primary schools in the United States are obese. The study appears in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine published on Monday.