Schools Address Childhood Obesity
By Jennifer Ginn, CSG Education Policy Analyst
The statistics on childhood obesity are startling. Consider this:
The number of obese high school students has nearly tripled in the past three years.
Thirty-two percent of children diagnosed with diabetes in one study had type 2 diabetes, the type normally associated with obese adults.
Those statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate obesity among children, once a rarity, is an epidemic in this country.
But some schools across the country are taking action, and The Council of State Governments shares some of their stories in a new publication, “Childhood Obesity: Sharing What Works.” The new publication addresses what schools are doing to promote healthful eating and an active lifestyle among their students.
As part of CSG’s Southern Collaborative on Obesity Reduction Efforts—or SCORE—program, staff visited schools in Florida, New Jersey and New York that were recognized by either Health magazine or the Alliance for a Healthier Generation as some of the nation’s healthiest schools.
From the Miami-Dade County School District, which has a water program for students with disabilities, to the West Babylon School District in New York, whose food service director helped form a co-op to make healthful foods more affordable for districts, the programs are as varied as the schools.
“We were so impressed and amazed at the variety of programs that are already out there,” said Pam Goins, director of education policy at CSG. “We found districts where children can’t wait to go to physical education classes because of the high-tech equipment they get to use. We saw districts where they came up with exciting and innovative ways to get their students to eat more healthful food both at lunch and during holiday parties.
“Good programs that combat America’s growing childhood obesity problem are out there; we just need to share the information about how these programs work,” Goins said.
SCORE has been helping a group of six Southern states—Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina and West Virginia—create policies and programs that target childhood obesity. CSG established teams of state legislators and state officials from the departments of health, education and even agriculture and combined them with local policymakers within the state. The main purpose of these teams was to create coalitions that will develop and implement strategic action plans to reduce child obesity through programs specifically focused on healthy eating, active living or changes to the social environment leading to healthy lifestyles.
SCORE is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the Leadership for Healthy Communities national program.
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