The Body Mass Index (BMI) scores of school-aged children in the U.S. were reduced following the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), a study reveals.
The study looked at 14,121 kids between the ages of 5 and 18 from January 2005 to March 2020. It found that children’s annual BMI scores decreased overall in the years after HHFKA was implemented. The decrease was seen across all ages and family income levels.
HHFKA, which was passed in 2010, sought to reduce the amount of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in school meals, while increasing produce, whole grains and low-fat or skim milk.
“School meals and snacks represent a key opportunity for interventions to combat the childhood obesity epidemic given the high rates of participation in school meal programs and the significant proportion of caloric intake that youths receive at school,” the study’s authors wrote. “We recommend further evaluations quantifying the association of the HHFKA with BMI and childhood obesity risk as well as efforts by policy makers to further improve the nutritional quality of school meals.”
The study was published just after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its proposed changes to the School Nutrition Standards. The changes would further reduce sodium in school meals and establish added sugar limits for the first time.