Child nutrition bill seeks to combat obesity by limiting bake sales

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A provision in the child nutrition bill on its way to President Obama’s desk gives the federal government the power to ban bake sales held during school hours, the AP reports. The legislation, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to combat childhood obesity, provides more meals at school for needy kids, including dinner, and directs the Agriculture Department to write guidelines to make meals healthier. The legislation would apply to all food sold in school during regular class hours.

ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan believes the bill’s bake sale policy is an unnecessary government intrusion that will do nothing to curb childhood obesity. “I can’t believe anyone would support a bill that keeps parents from enabling their children to have cake or brownies for classroom birthday parties. It’s outrageous and unnecessary.”

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, however, points out that the restrictions only apply to fundraisers and other events involving baked goods sold during school hours on school premises — it would still permit students to organize bake sales after-school or outside the school. “Like any large, complex bill tackling a complicated issue, such as this one’s attempt to fight obesity, there are some good parts to the bill and bad parts,” Dr. Ross says. “Providing dinners to children who do not have the resources to obtain nutritious meals at home is a great idea. Banning bake sales, with the objective of fighting obesity, is not a good idea, it seems to me. The kids will still have their bake sales, but after school. Therefore, this will be in addition to lunchtime dessert, not instead of it — another wrong-headed way to fight obesity.”