Government and School Policies Can Make a Difference
Schools alone can’t be singled out as the battlefield for combating childhood obesity. Governments, communities, parents and schools are all responsible for changing the social and cultural norms to reflect a healthier lifestyle.
A study from the University of Minnesota published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that school vending machines and school stores selling junk food were more prevalent in high schools than middle and elementary schools and that a state level policy may be an effective tool in addressing junk food issues in schools, more so in elementary and middle schools.
Good news is that comprehensive nutrition standards have been developed by some states and school policies are being re-worked to include concerns such as meal schedules, food sold for school fundraisers and in school stores, content and operation of vending machines, financial support of school nutrition programs as well as nutrition and physical education.
The Task Force on Childhood Obesity produced a report outlining strategies to address childhood obesity. It includes ‘providing healthier food in schools, ensuring access to healthy affordable food, increasing opportunities for physical activity, empowering parents and caregivers with better information about making healthy choices, and giving children a healthy start in life.' This is certainly an important step in the right direction!