ing to which children are exposed. Additionally, children may interpret school-based advertising to mean that teachers or other adults at school endorse the use of the advertised product.
The problem of in-school advertising is complex and warrants a thorough and complete separate examination. Part of the difficulty in addressing issues regarding food and beverage advertising in schools is the issue of distinguishing advertising and promotion of healthful foods and beverages themselves from the companies or brands that may be associated with several different food or beverage products, some of which may be healthful and some less so. In addition, many foods and beverages currently sold in schools are packaged with branded corporate logos and labels. The extent to which such packaging is considered to be advertising is unclear.
The committee acknowledges that there are significant barriers to removing advertising completely from the school environment. Foremost is the anticipated loss of funding from corporate sponsors and what is perceived to be substantial revenue from the sale of soft drinks and other branded items (although this revenue often comes primarily from students and their families). Additionally, there is the potential for loss of free curriculum materials, incentives, sports equipment, food-service equipment, computers, televisions, and other items. However, as discussed earlier in the chapter, options need to be explored so that schools can provide the healthiest possible environment for children. It is important to note that some corporations donate goods, services, or money to schools without seeking advertising or marketing rights in return.
Nineteen states have state laws or regulations that are relevant to this issue, but in most cases they are not comprehensive (GAO, 2000). Throughout most of the United States, the local school districts make the decisions regarding school commercialism and advertising, and some schools and school districts appear to be more ready than others to eliminate such advertising. This presents an important opportunity to systematically study the potential benefits of different policies on obesity and other health and psychological parameters.
Research is needed to examine the impact of such advertising on youth dietary, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors within the school. As a first step, the Department of Education and USDA should fund quasiexperimental research comparing schools that introduce and/or eliminate such advertising, with respect to food and physical activity choices and behaviors at school and outside of school.
To date, the evidence on the impact of advertising in general, particularly on young children, favors removal of advertising and marketing from schools. Furthermore, the school environment needs to reinforce nutrition and physical activity messages taught in the classroom, and advertising may present conflicting messages. Schools and school districts are urged to de-