In St. Paul schools, the no-sweet life

St. Paul’s public schools will be “sweet-free zones” by the end of the school year, reports the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The ban includes “sweet, sticky, fat-laden [and] salty treats.”

Forty percent of St. Paul’s fourth-graders, most of whom are poor and minority, are obese, 11 percent higher than the national rate.

St. Paul administrators say they’re preparing for stricter rules that could soon be handed down through the $4.5 billion Child Nutrition Bill signed by President Obama last week.

The bill will disburse that federal money to school districts to provide healthier lunches to more students. In the next year, the federal government will write new rules that can determine what kinds of foods are allowed to be sold on school grounds, including in vending machines and at fundraisers.

Jim Tillotson, a Tufts professor of nutrition policy, said childhood obesity is a complex issue that schools can’t solve with “silver-bullet” snack rules. “Nobody has the money or the will to do the real work it’s going to take to get American kids to lose weight.”

Children aren’t enthusiastic either, reports the Star-Tribune.

“All my friends say, ‘This really sucks,’” said Misky Salad, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Chelsea Heights Elementary. “A lot of us feel it should be up to us to determine what we should do with our bodies.”

In addition to banning sweets brought from home, school cafeterias stopped serving second helpings and selling sweet deserts this year.