''School fruits, veggies face unhealthy competition''

Publication: Star Tribune

Author: Jeremy Olson


11/01/2012 - ''An increase in fruits and vegetables offered by Minnesota high school lunch programs could be, well, fruitless if school districts don't also cut down on unhealthy snacks available to students.

Minnesota is one of 11 states where high schools offer high rates of both healthy and unhealthy snacks and a la carte lunch items, according to a new report. That can set up a conflict.

'It is very important to have fruit and vegetable offerings, but it's also pretty important to not be having those items competing with the less healthy stuff,' said Erik Olson, director of food programs for the Pew Charitable Trusts, which released the report Thursday with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Minnesota ranked sixth best nationally for healthy snacks -- with 39.9 percent of high schools offering fresh fruit -- but fourth worst in a measure of schools serving cookies, cakes and similar baked goods. Nearly half of Minnesota high schools sell these sweets as snacks, according to the report, which is based on 2010 federal data.

The report stopped short, however, of recommending bans on unhealthy snacks as a strategy for reducing the rate of childhood obesity. In Minnesota, that rate has tripled over the past 20 years; 12 percent of ninth-grade boys were obese in 2010, according to the state Department of Health.

The report comes as schools across Minnesota are also modifying lunch menus to conform with new federal nutrition guidelines that require more fruits and vegetables but fewer calories and carbohydrates.''

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Read the full article, School fruits, veggies face unhealthy competition, on the Star Tribune website.

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