Does This School Make Me Look Fat?

It appears that selling “competitive” foods–often called junk foods–in schools has little market-expanding effect, at least if we use childhood obesity as a measure. The authors of this study look to have used pretty robust methods and found no link between attending a middle school where such marketed foods are sold and obesity. So firms’ efforts to penetrate these schools probably represent zero-sum market-share battles among brands, not a means of stimulating overall long-term consumption of these products.

Bonus question: If food firms make competitive bids to schools in order to get exclusive access (and I have no idea whether that is true–I’m analogizing from the many college campus exclusive soft-drink deals), then how would they feel about regulations banning them from school premises? Hint: Think about the impact of taking cigarette advertising off of TV on cigarette firm profits.

3 Comments on “Does This School Make Me Look Fat?”

  1. SporkHero says:

    Just curious here, is there actually data that junk-food causes (not correlates with) obesity? And all junk foods, or particular sub-groups (sugars, fats). Yes I’m channeling Taubes here.

  2. stevepostrel says:

    I don’t know about experimental studies. Back in the 1970s, Consumer Reports used to find that rats lived for a long time eating exclusively McDonald’s food, which used to annoy their then-Puritan/granola reader base no end. (Peanut butter was another unpopular rodent boon.)

  3. SporkHero says:

    I can imagine the readers didn’t like that :)

    I’d heard that any intervention whatsoever makes rats live longer. Apparently it’s easy to make them feel queasy. Which makes them eat less. Which mimics calorie restriction. Which lengthens lifespan. Useful if one is marketing, say, resveratrol ;)

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