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School Bake Sales Draw Fire In Obesity Battle


By Scott Hensley

Friday, May 4, 2012

An American tradition is in jeopardy.

The bake sale, a staple of school fundraising for generations, is getting squeezed. The epidemic of childhood obesity is leading some districts to restrict the kinds of foods sold or to ban the sales altogether, Bloomberg Businessweek's Stephanie Armour explained on Friday's Morning Edition.

The obesity rate for children and adolescents has tripled since 1980, she told host David Greene. So in some districts, she said, "the thought is if they can get healthier food or no bake sales that perhaps they can lower that rate."

She reported recently that schools in many states, including California, New York, and Texas, have regulations that limit bake sales to nutritious food.

Calories — and big money — are at stake. Armour told Greene about a school in Maryland that raised $25,000 with bake sales and a mom in New York City who said she'd helped raise $50,000 that way.

Parents, she said, are divided on the restrictions. Opponents say the money often goes to activities, such as athletics, that could help kids stay trim and fit.

One jurisdiction that has clamped down is Montgomery County in Maryland, according to Armour. And while that may be the case, I can tell you from my own investigation that junky foods haven't been eliminated.

Early this year I attended a "Doughnuts with Dads" breakfast that featured giant, sugary doughnuts as big as my hand. And a few months later my wife got her fill at "Muffins with Moms." Kids and their parents chowed down while bonding over art projects. Good times and empty calories were enjoyed by all.

At my house anyway, our weights were unaffected by the caloric benders.

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