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Child Nutrition

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The state school board is on the verge of aggressively addressing the issue of junk food in Utah's public schools. The board's staff has been directed to draft rules that could possibly be adopted to limit what's available to students while at school - to establish statewide standards.

It is a timely endeavor.

In classrooms, educators try to teach proper nutrition. They extol the values of eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of one's body. Then the kids are turned loose between classes on vending machines in hallways that are stocked with junk food and sugary, high-caloric drinks. And not all of the food offered at lunchtime qualifies as nutritional and healthy.

What kind of message does that send to a generation of youngsters, especially when a fourth of them are already overweight and battling obesity?

As with any statewide approach, difficult issues must be resolved. Foremost is how schools would be compensated for the $3.75 million their vending machines bring in each year. There is also the question about whether the state board has authority to implement a statewide policy.

Surely, board members can come up with acceptable answers. In KSL's view, stronger school nutrition policies can play a vital role in improving the long-term health of the rising generation.

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