School Nutrition Guidelines

GENERIC: Food,health, nutrition
Snacks sold in schools will have to cut the fat, sugar and salt under the latest crackdown on junk food won by former President Clinton.

Just five months after a similar agreement targeting the sale of sodas in schools, Clinton and the American Heart Association announced a deal today with several major food companies to make school snacks healthier. It's the latest assault on the nation's childhood obesity epidemic.

What Are The New Guidelines?

The agreement with Kraft Foods Inc., Mars Inc., Campbell Soup Co., Groupe Danone SA and PepsiCo Inc. sets guidelines for fat, sugar, sodium and calories for snack foods sold in school vending machines, stores and snack bars. Those companies make everything from M&M's, yogurt and granola bars to Frito-Lay potato chips, Snickers bars and canned soups.

Under the guidelines, most foods won't be permitted to derive more than 35 percent of their calories from fat and more than 10 percent from saturated fat. There will be a limit of 35 percent for sugar content by weight. An example of a snack that would be banned is a Snickers bar, which has 280 calories, 130 of them from fat. The candy bar has 30 grams of sugar out of 58.7 total grams.

How Big An Issue Is Childhood Obesity?

Obesity, defined simply as too much body fat, can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. More than 11 million children and adolescents (16 percent) in the United States are overweight or obese. Recent research suggests if childhood obesity continues to increase, it could cut two to five years from the average lifespan.

How Did The Clinton Foundation's Alliance With The Heart Association Happen?

The William J. Clinton Foundation teamed up with the heart association to form the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in 2005. The alliance was formed to combat childhood obesity, which has been blamed for an increase in early-onset diabetes and other ills.

In May, the alliance announced an agreement with beverage industry leaders to sell only water, unsweetened juice and low-fat and nonfat milk in elementary and middle schools. Diet sodas and sports drinks are still being sold in high schools.

What Does The Food Pyramid Say?

The U.S. government has discarded its one-size-fits-all food pyramid in favor of 12 different triangle-shaped guides, each geared to people's differing lifestyles and nutritional needs. To emphasize exercise - 60 minutes a day of which is seen as necessary for avoiding weight gain - the image depicts a figure climbing steps to the top.

Click here to see if you're following the food pyramid.

What Is Body–Mass Index?

The body-mass index (BMI) is used to assess a person's body weight relative to height. It's a useful, indirect measure of body composition and is a helpful indicator of obesity and underweight in adults. BMI compares well to body fat but cannot be interpreted as a certain percentage of body fat. Also, the relation between fatness and BMI is influenced by age and gender. Some people with dense muscle mass may have a high BMI score but very little body fat. For them, waist circumference, skinfold or fatfold measurements, or more direct methods of measuring body fat may be more useful measures.

Click here to find out what your BMI is.

To Learn More About Nutrition:

• Click here to read more about health guidelines from the American Heart Association.

• Read more about the Clinton initiative from

• Are you food savvy? Take these diet and nutrition quizzes to find out.

• Read about childhood obesity from the Clinton Foundation.