Archive for the tag - schools

Banning Junk Food Doesn’t Decrease Obesity.

The forbidden fruit syndrome: Does banning unhealthy snacks make them more desirable?

Growing up, the shelves in my family’s pantry were stocked with soda, chips and candy. Of course, there were healthy options, too – but my friends always loved coming over to indulge in the forbidden snacks that their parents didn’t buy.

Though I was overweight for a few years during my childhood, my sister was always thin. Though the unhealthy snacks were available to us, neither of us paid them much attention. Because soda, chips and sweets weren’t considered “off limits,” there was no satisfaction – as there was for my friends – in consuming them.

A new study, published by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, calls into question the effectiveness of banning unhealthy snacks – particularly, in schools. According to the data, there was no correlation – at all – between obesity and attending a school where sweets and salty snacks were available.

Researchers tracked the body mass indexes (BMI) of 19,450 students from fifth grade through eight grade. In fifth grade, some 59% of students attended schools with unhealthy snack bans. By eight grade, 86% of students were subject to bans.

Looking at the data, correlations were examined on a number of levels. Researchers even looked at differences in BMIs for students that moved into schools with bans and vice versa. But no matter how researchers sliced the data, there were virtually no differences in BMIs. In other words, the bans don’t work.

As was experienced by my friends during childhood, it may be the forbidden fruit syndrome. The action of banning something usually has the opposite effect than what is intended. Just look how American youth compare to their European counterparts when it comes to alcohol and the drinking age. Moreover, the more we concentrate on what we can’t eat, the more we want to eat it.

But if banning unhealthy foods isn’t the answer for the astronomical obesity rates in American youth, what is? Let me know what you think in the comments below.