Congress has proposed several bills during the recent legislative session as part of an effort to scale back government regulation on different aspects of American life, including a new one that will scale back efforts to make school lunches healthier.
The Associated Press has reported that Congress is proposing a bill that would push back against efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Obama administration to limit french fries and pizza, among other adjustments.
Lobbyists for the potato, salt and food preparation industries have told the AP that the government shouldn't tell kids what to eat, while the USDA has said lawmakers shouldn't put special interest groups ahead of children's health.
The final version of a spending bill, released late on Nov. 14, would force the USDA to abandon an attempt to limit servings of potatoes and starchy vegetables to two per week, delay proposed limits on sodium and delay a requirement to boost whole grains — all of which were changes proposed earlier this year.
The spending bill also would allow tomato paste on pizza to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. The department's proposed guidelines would have required that a half cup of tomato paste be used in order for a food to count as a vegetable.
The changes were lobbied for by food companies that produce frozen pizza, the salt industry and potato growers, according to the AP. Some conservatives in Congress have called the push for healthier foods an "overreach" while stating that the government shouldn't be telling children what to eat.
The changes were based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, whom deemed them necessary to reverse the trend toward childhood obesity and reduce future healthcare costs among overweight children.
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