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Board to Consider Banning Trans Fat From School Vending Machines

Board to Consider Banning Trans Fat From School Vending Machines

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Ed Yeates ReportingThis September, the Utah Board of Education will consider a rule that would ban junk food and snacks with trans fat from all school vending machines.

If approved, Utah schools would fall in line with New York, which recently banned trans fat from the city's 22,000 restaurants.

In the wake of what the Surgeon General calls an obesity epidemic, state educators are moving to alter the choices students have when they hit the vending machines.

"I just take whatever I feel like," one student told us. Another said, "Just buy what you're craving. Whatever sounds good, I'm getting it."

"We really only have 30 minutes for lunch, total, so we just come in here, and it's usually just whatever sounds good."

Under the proposed rule, trans fat snacks would disappear from the machines. New York City has declared trans fat a public health hazard. Utah cardiovascular researchers agree.

Dr. Eliot Brinton of the University of Utah Cardiovascular Center said, "Trans fat tends to elevate our bad cholesterol. It doesn't seem to have any other beneficial effect, doesn't raise the good cholesterol."

Dr. Brinton says trans fat, high sugar, high-calorie foods and a sedentary lifestyle all are part of a disastrous recipe.

"The projection is that this generation may well be the first generation in how many that will actually have a greater disease burden and a shorter life expectancy than the generation before," Dr. Brinton said.

Though they now choose junk foods, Jeremy, Richard, Jon, Ashley, Sarah and Michon say restricting what they can buy here would be a good move.

"If students don't have any choice than to eat something healthy, they're not going to starve," they say.

"It's very rare to find someone who is healthy and stays that way and can eat properly because of what's around them."

"It shouldn't be happening this young, and we need to be worrying about it."

If the change is made, schools would be given enough time to work through current contracts with vendors. There are some concerns. Murray High School makes about $25,000 to $30,000 per year for school projects from the vending machines.

But schools which have already made the move claim healthier choices have not diminished their revenues. Lou Ann Shipley with the State Board of Education says many school cafeterias already have phased out trans fat.

A sobering study released by the University of Washington shows despite being one of the richest countries in the world, America -- over the past 20 years -- has dropped from 11th to 42nd place in world rankings for life expectancy.

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