Pass California's Competitive Food Nutrition Standards in High Schools Nationally

California State Senate Bill 965 banned the sale of soda and other sweetened beverages in high schools, with implementation in July 2009. The law requires that snacks contain no more than 35% of total calories from fat, no more than 10% of total calories from saturated fat, and no more than 35% of its total weight from naturally occurring and added sugars. Each snack item cannot exceed 250 calories, and competitive food entree items cannot exceed 400 calories, with no more than 4 grams of fat per 100 calories.

Based on the Taber et al. study, at school, California students reported consumed less than students in other states for every measure examined, particularly added sugars, trans fat, monounsaturated fat, sodium, potassium, iron, and vitamin B. Overall caloric intake was 157.9 kcal per weekday less than states with weak laws. California's standards for high schools in 2009-2010 remained lower than the standards recommended by the Institute Of Medicine, but are more strict than in most states.

Using a cross-sectional study, the authors examined several measures of nutrient intake assessed by 24-hour recall in California and 14 states without high school competitive food nutrition standards in the 2009-2010 school year. A total of 680 high school students were sample in February through May 2010 as part of the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS). Among the 168 schools that were sampled in NYPANS, 60 schools volunteered to participate in the 24-hour recall component. There were 1,229 students across these 60 schools (with 20 states represented) that ultimately participated in the telephone interview on dietary recall.

Ultimately, the study sample included 15 states (including California, with a sample size of 114). Of the 5 excluded states, 4 had a mixture of strong, weak, oand no relevant laws; 1 had strong provisions on competitive foods, but too small a sample to include (n=12).

According to the School Health Policies and Programs Study (O'Toole et al., 2007), few states require schools to restrict the availability of deep-fried foods, to prohibit the sale of foods with low nutrient density, or make healthful beverages available when beverages are offered. Woodward-Lopez et al. (2010) found that availability of nutrition standard-compliant foods and beverages increased in California, while availability of noncompliant items decreased (particularly sodas and other sweetened beverages, regular chips, and candy). At-school consumption of the noncompliant foods dropped, and there was no compensation in the home of these foods.

School food environments tend to become progressively less healthy at higher grade levels. In 2007-2008, 77% of high schools nationwide offered regular fat and sugar snacks in competitive venues (Johnston et al.). California Project Lean offers a Food Standards Calculator that allows you to input food items to determine whether an individual food item would meet the food standards for calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and sugar as established by California's 2007 legislation.

On average, a school year is 180 days. The intervention assumes that the change is over the course of a school year. The total caloric impact is then averaged over 365 days to account for no change in activity on holidays, weekends, and summer vacation.

* The Average Caloric Impact (ACI) for this intervention is empirical, based on published estimates from Taber at al. (2012) of the impact of competitive food guidelines in CA high schools, as described above.

Studies Used in Estimates

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Differences in Nutrient Intake Associated with State Laws Regarding Fat, Sugar, and Caloric Content of Competitive Foods. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2012 May; 166(5):452-458.

Other References

California Project Lean. California School Food and Beverage Standards. 2012.

Finkelstein DM, Hill EL, Whitaker RC. School Food Environments and Policies in US Public Schools. Pediatrics. 2008; 122(1):e251-e259.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth.. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007.

Johnston LD, O'Malley PM, Terry-McElrath YM, Freedman-Doan P, Brenner JS. School Policies and Practices to Improve Health and Prevent Obesity: National Secondary School Survey Results, School Years 2006-07 and 2007-08, Executive Summary. Vol 1.. Ann Arbor, MI: Bridging the Gap Program, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, 2011.

O'Toole TP, Anderson S, Miller C, Guthrie J. Nutrition Services and Foods and Beverages Available at School: Results from the School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006. The Journal of School Health. 2007 Oct; 77(8):500-521.

Woodward-Lopez G, Gosliner W, Samuels SE, Craypo L, Kao J, Crawford PB. Lessons Learned from Evaluations of California's Statewide School Nutrition Standards. American Journal of Public Health. 2010 Nov; 100(11):2137-2145.