Schools have big role to play in battling childhood obesity

Schools can make a powerful impact on battling the childhood obesity epidemic, but only when health and nutrition are seen as a way to improve student learning rather than take away from it.

But there can be push-back in making this transition, said John Skretta, a health advocate and superintendent of Norris School District in Firth, Ky. At the Coordinated School Health Symposium in Lexington Monday, he talked about his efforts to introduce tuna salad in the school lunch menu, with food service directors saying students wouldn’t eat it. Finally, the district’s head of nutrition made some herself using low-fat mayonnaise and pickles and it was a hit with kids.

To get kids more physically active, Skretta said kids in his elementary schools now take two 10-minute walks a day, which have improved test scores and gets children closer to the goal of making long-lasting choices about their health.

To help with the process, school staff are encouraged to model healthy behavior and avoid eating or drinking items that have low nutritional standards in front of students.

“If schools don’t take the lead on this, who will?” Skretta asked. (Read more)

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