Press release

American Diabetes Association® Concerned that Weakened School Nutrition Standards Could Undercut Efforts to Reduce Type 2 Diabetes

January 22, 2020 | Arlington, Virginia

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is raising concerns that a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) school meals proposed rule could weaken nutrition standards and undercut the fight against diabetes.

Meals served by the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program today must follow meal patterns that ensure sound, balanced nutrition, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, USDA is proposing changes to those meal patterns, requiring lower amounts of red or orange vegetables in school lunches and less fruit when schools operate innovative Breakfast in the Classroom programs. The proposed rule would also loosen Smart Snacks rules governing the sale of other food sold in schools.

“The ADA has worked to enact and implement sound, evidence-based standards for school meals and snacks–in part because of their potential impact on prevention of type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications,” said LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH ADA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy. “Overweight and obesity are principal risk factors for type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, and obesity in childhood and adolescence predicts risk for obesity later in life.1 2 That makes school nutrition vital to reducing the number of Americans who develop type 2 diabetes. We urge USDA to rescind harmful proposed changes to the Smart Snacks rules and meal pattern requirements.”

The proposed changes to Smart Snacks rules would allow sale of certain a-la-carte items for up to three days a week. According to Shamera Robinson, MPH, RDN, Associate Director of Nutrition for the ADA, “This change would enable children to more frequently skip balanced lunches and breakfasts, in favor of less healthful choices on the a-la-carte line.”

The proposed rule was released just days following a new Journal of the American Medical Association study found that children in states implementing Smart Snacks rules consumed fewer calories from added sugar and solid fat. 3

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1. Simmonds M, Llewellyn A, Owen CG, Woolacott N. Predicting adult obesity from childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2016 Feb;17(2):95-107.
2. Gordon-Larsen P, The NS, Adair LS. Longitudinal trends in obesity in the United States from adolescence to the third decade of life. Obesity. 2010;18(9):1801-–80
3. Turner L, Leider J, Piekarz-Porter E, Chriqui JF. Association of State Laws Regarding Snacks in US Schools With Students' Consumption of Solid Fats and Added Sugars. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Jan 3;3(1):e1918436. Available at


About the American Diabetes Association
Every day more than 4,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes in America. Nearly 115 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes and are striving to manage their lives while living with the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For nearly 80 years the ADA has been driving discovery and research to treat, manage and prevent diabetes, while working relentlessly for a cure. We help people with diabetes thrive by fighting for their rights and developing programs, advocacy and education designed to improve their quality of life. Diabetes has brought us together. What we do next will make us Connected for Life. To learn more or to get involved, visit us at or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Join the fight with us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn).