Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. Today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. What role does school play in this epidemic and how can it change to help students maintain good health?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that we strengthen the schools as the heart of health. From their report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention:
Schools have a tradition of supporting the health and well-being of their students. Children and teens spend up to half of their waking hours in school and may consume more than half of their daily calories there.
This puts schools in a unique position to support students in getting optimum physical activity, eating healthily, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight – not only in the short term but over their lifetimes.
These are a few of their recommendations:
Children in grades K–12 have opportunities to get 60 minutes of physical activity every school day, including quality physical education.
Physical activity outside of physical education includes safe routes to walk to school, classroom physical activity breaks, active recesses, and after school physical activity programming.