It's been a highly conflicted topic for schools across North America. Should schools be banning junk food in favor of more nutritious options, with the hopes of teaching kids about healthy choices and eating?
A lot of critics have been against this in the past, saying banning these foods at school doesn't mean kids can't get the foods other places. There hasn't really been much evidence in favor of these programs because it's still a rather new concept.
However, health economist Philip Leonard conducted a study through the University of New Brunswick in Canada, which looked at the ban of junk food from schools and how it affected students. In 2005, New Brunswick banned all junk foods in schools, leading the way for the rest of the country.
Leonard looks at students' body mass indexes and overall weight after their school had banned junk food for 5 years or more. These numbers were compared to students whose schools did not implement this type of ban. The hope was to find a direct correlation between banning junk food and healthier weights in students.
So what are the results?
“You might say it’s a small effect, [but] the average kids who spent five or more years being banned [from junk food] weighed about two pounds less than the average [student] who had not been banned from junk food,” Leonard said.
Some other interesting notes from the study concluded that females were more positively impacted by the ban, with their BMI numbers dropped more significantly. It also found that younger students are more positively affected by the ban, because it's teaching them about healthy eating habits at a younger age.
Tara Werner, Diabetes Canada manager of community health promotion, says these results are positive and proves that schools have a chance to help students live healthier lives.
“I think there’s a lot of potential, not just in the BMI,” Werner said. “I think that’s great that we’re seeing results and that’s being lowered, but there’s also potential for other healthy behaviors to come from that. So, it’s sort of like a domino effect with the knowledge and awareness being built.”