Study: Junk foods widely available at elementary schools

Unhealthy snacks most prevalent in the South.

Junk food remains plentiful at the nation's elementary schools despite widespread efforts to curb childhood obesity, a new study suggests.

Between 2006 and 2010, nearly half of public and private schools surveyed sold sweet or salty snack foods in vending machines or other places, the study found.

There was little change over the four years, a surprising finding given vocal advocacy campaigns to improve kids' diets, said researcher Lindsey Turner, a health psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the study's lead author.

The study focused on snacks not sold during mealtimes, which until recently weren't subject to government nutrition standards.

Schools most likely to sell chips, cookies or similar foods were in the South, where obesity rates are the highest; these foods were scarcest at schools in the West.