Convinced that unhealthy foods (and not unhealthy habits) are at the root of their children’s perceived “obesity epidemic,” California lawmakers voted yesterday to limit the fat and sugar content in most public school foods. If the proposal becomes law, the state will also limit drinks to 12-ounce sizes (except for milk and bottled water), ban the serving of jumbo-size entrees, and require all school snack bars and stores to offer fruits and vegetables. Sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, “sports drinks,” and all carbonated beverages will be banned from 30 minutes before the school day begins until 30 minutes after it ends. Elementary schools will only be permitted to serve water, milk and fruit juice. Period.
State Sen. Steve Peace (D), a supporter of this legislation, told the Associated Press that high-calorie food and added sugars are doing more harm to students than tobacco: “The food we feed our children is killing them,” he said.
Opponents were just as passionate. State Sen. Ray Haynes (R), said that restricting school menus would merely encourage older students to eat off campus. “I never thought we would be fast-food fascists,” said Haynes. “This bill goes just a little bit too far. It’s a little bit too intrusive.” State Sen. Tom McClintock (R), another dissenter, added: “What my children choose to eat is none of your business.”