A new national study may finally provide proof that healthier school lunches help reduce obesity. The study found a small but significant decline in the average body mass index (BMI) of more than 14,000 children, amounting to a 1-pound weight loss for an average 10-year old boy with an elevated mass index. Significant decreases in BMI measures were seen not only in kids ages 5 to 11, but also in those age 12 to 18 -- “an incredible shift” in the words of Dr. Aruna Chandran, a social epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study is also the first to find lower BMI in kids across all income levels. These encouraging results mean that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 aimed at boosting nutrition standards for schools may have begun to help slow the rise in obesity among America's children. Dr. Lauren Fiechtner, director of nutrition at Mass General Hospital for Children in Boston, US, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, believes that the results are truly significant as “even BMI flattening over time is important” whilst “holding kids' weight steady as they grow can help keep obesity in check”.

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