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5/16/2017 House passes McNamara bill that would ban the advertisement of unhealthy foods in schools
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would forbid the advertising of unhealthy foods to children in schools.

The bill (2017-H 5580) would prohibit the advertising of unhealthy food and beverage products in schools, particularly those that may not be sold on the school campus during the school day, since they do not meet minimum federal governmental nutrition standards.

“In 2006, the General Assembly passed legislation that required the phase-out of unhealthy drinks and snacks from all public schools in Rhode Island,” said Representative McNamara, who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. “Now that junk food is gone from the cafeterias, it’s time to focus on improving dietary practices in our children and encourage healthy eating habits. The Department of Agriculture has told us time and again that educating children on nutrition is the best way to encourage healthy eating.”

Specifically, the legislation would forbid the advertising of food that does not meet the minimum nutritional standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Advertising would be prohibited on any property or facility owned or leased by the school district or school and used at any time for school-related activities, including school buildings, athletic fields, facilities, signs, scoreboards, parking lots, school buses, equipment, vending machines, uniforms, educational material and supplies.

A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a dramatic increase in the number of obese children in the United States. The study found that more than 10 percent of preschool children between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight, up from 7 percent in 1994. Among children and teens ages 6 to 19, 15 percent (almost 9 million) are overweight, triple the figure that was reported in 1980. 

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where similar legislation (2017-S 0304) has been submitted by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903