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Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth
recommendations, the committee is also mindful of the positive efforts of some states and school districts, sometimes working together with the dairy industry, to successfully develop products lower in added sugars.
Standard 3: Snack items are 200 calories or less per portion as packagedand à la carte entrée items do not exceed calorie limits on comparable National School Lunch Program (NSLP) items.
Entrée items served à la carte are exempt from the 200-calorie limit; their caloric content does not exceed that of comparable NSLP entrée items.
Most U.S. children consume at least one snack per day, and children consume nearly one quarter of their dietary energy intake as snacks. Energy intake should be commensurate with energy expenditure in order to achieve energy balance in adults and avoid overweight and obesity; only a small positive energy balance is required for growth in school-age children. The energy density of foods is higher for snacks compared to meals, and excess weight gain may develop over time from a relatively small daily excess of calories consumed.
The committee determined that discretionary energy consumption from snacks should represent no more than about 9 percent of total daily energy intake. A 200-calorie maximum limit per portion for snacks may be high for some younger or smaller children, but it is assumed that variations in other daily energy intake will compensate for shortfalls or excesses. Furthermore, à la carte entrée items should not provide more calories than the comparable NSLP entrée items they replace. The standard is established for whole servings rather than half servings because, in the committee’s judgment, a whole serving of fruit, vegetable, or whole grain per portion would contribute to the goal of helping school-age children meet DGA recommendations in a portion size that food manufacturers can achieve in formulating new products.
Standard 4: Snack items meet a sodium content limit of 200 mg or lessper portion as packaged or 480 mg or less per entrée portion as served àla carte.
Although sodium is an essential dietary mineral, it is widely overconsumed. Research evidence in adult subjects strongly supports a correlation between higher salt intake and increased blood pressure, although associations in children and adolescents are not as well documented.
The exception to the sodium recommendation for federally reimbursable school meal entrée items purchased à la carte reflects the fact that they generally represent greater energy value than the recommended limit for snacks (Standard 3 above). These entrée items are components of meals that meet U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal nutrition standards