The purpose of this review is to explore public policies that impact the health of American children and adolescents. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) has a significant impact on school-age children’s nutritional intake. Foods provided by the NSLP have been analyzed for their nutritional content. Although these foods did not exceed the recommended total caloric intake, they were below other nutritional standards, and these shortcomings are primarily attributable to cultural preferences. Other important contributors to childhood obesity are unregulated school food items sold in vending machines. These items are becoming increasingly more prevalent in schools. Public policy is an appropriate method of curbing the growing incidence of childhood obesity, including the mandatory implementation of school wellness policies for all schools that participate in the NSLP. Many school districts have had success in implementing these programs, but implementation is difficult in low-income rural schools. The wellness programs with the greatest success have been those at the local level, such as the CATCH program in Texas and the Pathways program in American Indian communities. The federal government should be aggressive in creating more healthy school food environments, which might help reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity.

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