A recent study has reportedly concluded that school children in states with strong restrictions on competitive food sales gained less weight than their counterparts in states with weaker restrictions. Daniel Taber, et al., “Weight Status Among Adolescents in States That Govern Competitive Food Nutrition Content,” Pediatrics, September 2012. After identifying states with strong, weak or no competitive food laws, researchers analyzed data from 6,300 students in 40 states in both fifth and eighth grade (2004 and 2007). The findings evidently showed that “students exposed to strong laws at baseline gained, on average, 0.25 fewer BMI [body mass index] units… and were less likely to remain overweight or obese over time than students in states with no laws.”

“Laws that regulate competitive food nutrition content may reduce adolescent BMI change if they are comprehensive, contain strong language, and are enacted across grade levels,” concluded the study’s authors. “Our results suggest that competitive food laws had a relatively weak association with BMI change if they contained diluted nutrition standards that were nonspecific or not required. Consistency of competitive food standards is critical, given that competitive food policies tend to be weaker at higher grade levels. Based on our results, elementary school laws may have a limited impact unless reinforced by strong codified laws at higher grade levels.”