California bans marketing of unhealthy foods in schools

California bans marketing of unhealthy foods in schools

October 17, 2017

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 841, which prohibits schools from marketing foods that cannot be sold or served in those schools. The addition to the state education code is based on the idea that unhealthy foods that may not be served to students should not be advertised to them, either. The law also prohibits schools from participating in corporate incentive programs that reward students with free or discounted foods or beverages that do not comply with applicable nutritional standards such as the USDA Smart Snacks in School regulations.

Marketing of junk food to children is big business. The Federal Trade Commission has reported that companies spend $149 million annually on food marketing in schools. Such marketing adversely affects students’ eating habits, which are tied to their health and their academic success.

AB 841 was substantially based on a model policy created by ChangeLab Solutions. We also acknowledge and thank the American Heart Association and Public Health Advocates for their instrumental role in the passage of AB 841.

The passage of AB 841 makes California one of the first states to pass legislation addressing the marketing of unhealthy foods to children in schools. This law will help ensure that students receive consistent messages from their schools about the importance of proper nutrition as well as reinforce parents’ efforts to help their children choose healthy foods. In addition, helping students make healthy food choices will result in healthier students who are better able to thrive academically.

ChangeLab Solutions has created a fact sheet on restricting unhealthy food marketing in schools as well as model policies with language for district-level policies and state-level statutes that can be tailored to the needs of particular jurisdictions and then adopted by school boards, state boards of education, or state legislatures. Contact us to learn more about how to regulate marketing of unhealthy foods to children in your schools!