Poll: most Kentuckians support tobacco-free campuses, school nutrition standards and student physical activity requirements

Kentuckians overwhelmingly support several school policies than can influence student health but are not all embraced by Kentucky schools, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll, taken in October and November.

The poll showed that 84 percent of Kentuckians—and 72 percent of smokers—support tobacco-free campus policies, which have been adopted by only about a third of Kentucky school districts. The survey also found that 72 percent strongly favor the tobacco-free policies, while 12 percent said they favored it somewhat.

The survey found that 57 percent of Kentucky adults strongly supported, and 21 percent somewhat supported, the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s new standards for school nutrition, which reduced salt and saturated fat, increased offerings of whole-grain foods, fruit and vegetables, and put stricter controls on calories and portion size.

Because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people exercise for 60 minutes per day, KHIP’s survey asked Kentucky adults if they think Kentucky schools should offer 30 minutes of physical activity per day for students. It found that 88 percent strongly agreed and 9 percent somewhat agreed with the policy. Physical activity is an important topic for Kentucky because 18 percent of Kentucky children are obese, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Democrats were more likely to be supportive of tobacco-free campuses and the new school menus, but there was no partisan difference on physical activity. “Poll findings show that support for the health of our children cuts across party lines,” said Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which sponsors the poll with Interact for Health of Cincinnati. It is conducted by researchers at the University of Cincinnati.

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