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Before that measure, USDA policy restricted schools from selling foods “of minimal nutritional value” during mealtimes. Under the new law, the agency can set nutrition standards for all foods sold in U.S. schools.

Another USDA change announced last month focuses on making school lunches healthier, with changes including less sodium and more whole grains.

The changes affecting snack foods “need to be comprehensive, they need to be strong, they need to be specific,” and they could be “a game-changer,” said Orleans.

A website for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service says restricting these foods can pose challenges for schools, because many rely on sales of snack foods to boost revenue. But it also explains why changes are needed.

“The constant availability of foods and beverages may increase the likelihood of impulse buying and contribute to overeating by some students,” the USDA website says.

It lists states and school districts that have imposed some restrictions on these foods.

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Online:

Archives: http://www.archpediatrics.com

USDA: http://1.usa.gov/z7t5md

Robert Wood Johnson: http://bit.ly/ytMLqM