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Health Officials Approve New School Snack Rules

This article is more than 8 years old.

Massachusetts health officials have approved new school nutrition standards that supporters say could be some of the toughest in the country and will help combat childhood obesity.

The state's Public Health Council adopted guidelines Wednesday that will limit foods students can buy during school hours.

The regulations ban sugared drinks and foods made with artificial sweeteners and require schools to provide nutritional information. They also limit the amount of fats and salt allowed in foods.

The regulations apply to all food sold or provided at school a la carte lines, vending machines, school stores, events and fundraisers during the school day.

Valerie Basset, with the Public Health Commission, says banning and limiting fatty and sugary foods will benefit students in unforeseen ways.

"What it will really mean is changing the culture towards healthy food and helping children develop a taste for food that's tasty and tastes like food," Basset said.

Added Barry Zuckerman, chair of pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, "the school has some responsibility to provide both a physical, academic and, in this case, a healthy environment."

Schools must begin enforcing some guidelines as early as August 2012.

A recent study ranked Massachusetts the fourth least obese state with an adult obesity rate of 22.3 percent.

The WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on July 13, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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