MADISON, Wis. — A new Wisconsin law says nutrition instruction in school health classes must be based on guidelines that are updated every five years by federal agriculture and health officials.
While many school districts have updated their health curriculum, the law updates a statute that hadn't been updated in more than 70 years, Wisconsin Public Radio reported . The statute previously required school boards to have instruction on the vitamin content of food and the health value of dairy products.
There's more to nutrition than that, said Christina Lemon, a registered dietitian and president of the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"That's not to say that nothing newer than that has been taught in our schools. I don't mean to imply that," Lemon explained. "This at least updates our statute and ties it to evidence-based standards established by our government."
The federal government recommends limiting added sugars and saturated fats, reducing sodium intake and eating nutrient-dense foods. The guidelines are meant to help people maintain a healthy weight and prevent disease.
"We have a problem with obesity in this country, and it's not going away. It's getting worse," Lemon said. "So there is a focus on how to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight."
The School Nutrition Association of Wisconsin also supports the changes to the state's nutrition education guidelines.
Improvements to school lunches are also helping improve children's nutrition, said Diane Agrell, director of food service for the Winneconne Community School District and president of nutrition association.
"I have salad bars at each one of my schools. And (students) go right to the salad bar, and they're very receptive to picking fruits and vegetables," said Agrell.