A new study of nearly 20,000 middle schoolers has found that kids who attend schools that sell junk food such as soda and doughnuts do not gain more weight than students who attend schools where that type of food isn’t available, the Lookout reports. The study, published in this month’s issue of Sociology of Education, contradicts earlier research with smaller sample sizes that showed the availability of junk food correlated with rates of childhood obesity. The new study’s author, Pennsylvania State Professor Jennifer Hook, said in a statement that the results surprised her. Hook hypothesizes that kids don’t actually have that much time to eat at school, so their out-of-school eating habits are a more important factor in determining their weight. “Children’s environments at home and in their communities may provide so many opportunities to eat unhealthy foods that competitive food sales in schools have little influence on children’s weight,” she writes. Eating habits are set very early, so efforts to encourage healthy food choices should start before middle school, Hook adds…

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