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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
State backs school junk food ban
Pupil eating school lunch
The state says the ban would combat obesity
The American state of Connecticut has voted to ban junk food in schools in an effort to tackle obesity in children.

The measures are being described as the toughest in the US but they still have to be approved by the state governor.

Under the bill, passed by Connecticut's law-makers, most fizzy drinks would be banned from school cafeterias and vending machines.

Foods which the state's education department classified as unhealthy would also be banned.

The law would also compel children to have 20 minutes' extra exercise every day beyond normal gym classes.

'Feel good legislation'

Commentators say the legislation would be the strictest school nutrition bill in the country.

The fizzy drink ban would go into effect in July, although certain "sports drinks" and "diet sodas" would be allowed.

Education officials would release a list of approved snacks by January.

It would apply to all schools with children up to the age of 17.

Other states are considering such bans. In California, former bodybuilder and current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, said he too would push for a ban on junk food.

Opponents of the new law say it is "feel good legislation", designed to make legislators and wider society feel better without actually improving anyone's health.

They argue that children could smuggle unhealthy food into school, just as there was bootlegging of alcohol during prohibition.

Connecticut's governor, M. Jodi Rell, has indicated she is not in favour of the laws.

She told a news conference: "I think it should be left to local school boards to make that decision".

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