Senate praised for passing child nutrition bill

The American Heart Association on Thursday praised the Senate for passing a child nutrition bill by unanimous consent.

In a statement released soon after passage, AHA CEO Nancy Brown called for "swift approval in the House when Congress reconvenes in the fall."

"We applaud [sponsors] Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) for their leadership, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [R-Nev.] and other Congressional leaders for advancing the measure before the summer congressional recess," Brown said.

"The measure," she said, "will ensure that high-calorie drinks and junk foods sold in schools are out of children’s reach and increase opportunities for physical activity through enhanced school wellness policies. The bill would require local educational agencies to set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness."

A public education and advocacy campaign formed to bring attention to child nutrition issues also applauded passage.

"This important legislation improves the nutrition standards for meals served in schools through the national school breakfast and lunch programs as well as food sold in vending machines and other outlets on school grounds," the Child Nutrition Initiative said in a statement. "These improvements are central to the effort to combat skyrocketing obesity rates that have left almost one third of U.S. children and adolescents overweight or obese. The bill also improves access to meals for many children who rely on them as one of their most reliable sources of food. With more than 30 million children participating in school meal programs, it is critical that we provide schools with the resources they need to improve children's health and readiness to learn."