Clinton's Snack Food Deal

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Bill Clinton is at it again. On Monday I mentioned in Thinking the Drink Again the recent deal the Clinton Foundation made with the beverage industry to limit sugary drinks on school campuses nationwide. Today, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation – a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association - announced a collaboration with 5 of the top food companies who have agreed to support new nutrition guidelines for all foods sold outside of the school meals program. These foods are referred to as competitive foods and include anything in the vending machines, student store, a la carte foods, snack carts and fundraisers - basically whatever is not being sold as a full meal in the cafeteria.

Campbell Soup Company, Dannon, Kraft Foods, Mars and PepsiCo are the 5 who have committed to reformulating some of their products and creating new ones to meet the new guidelines.

Actually these guidelines are not at all new to me or California. They look very similar to the guidelines we wrote for LAUSD's Obesity Prevention Motion and the guidelines outlined in California Senate Bill 12 the "School Junk Food Ban".

The big news is that these 5 huge food companies have agreed to follow them, and they distribute food and snacks to schools nationwide. So the impact could be big. Or small. School districts aren't obligated to abide by these guidelines and may go to other food companies to buy junk food for the kids to purchase at school. The real outcome remains to be seen and the proof will be in the pudding (ironic choice of wording, I know, but how could I resist).

But it is a step in the right direction. The guidelines promote fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nutrient-rich foods, fat-free and low fat dairy foods and establish limits for calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium. That's all good (but I didn't hear anything about fiber!! When will that nutrient come to the forefront? And I think the sugar guideline of measuring it by weight is next to useless. A frozen soda on a stick could qualify. You'll see what I mean when you read them).

As for what the big 5 are going to do to meet these guidelines, here's some of what they have committed to so far:
--Campbell will promote the benefits of its products that are lower in calories, fat and sodium.
--Dannon will reduce the sugar content of its Danimals yogurt cups for kids by 25 percent.
--Kraft will add the sodium and calorie guidelines to its current vending guidelines and extend them to all of its competitive foods sold in schools.
--Mars will create a new line of nutritious snacks that are formulated with the needs of children and teens in mind.
--PepsiCo will reformulate several products and also encourage schools, distributors and vending partners to offer products that meet the new guidelines.

So far so good, but again the proof will be in the proverbial pudding.

To see the guidelines and learn more about this latest Clinton endeavor go to http://www.healthiergeneration.org/engine/renderpage.asp?pid=s042.

What do you think of these guidelines and what the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is trying to do? Are they on the right track? What else can be done? Let's hear your opinions.
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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