Thursday, April 9, 2009

School’s in session

Today’s lesson: How we can improve the health of our children through schools?

As we all know, the majority of the children and adolescents in our nation spend a large proportion of their time at school. So, as it makes sense to work to help adults make healthy choices in the workplace, it is equally effective to target children through schools.

Public health professionals have made great strides in raising awareness of the importance of getting unhealthy vending machines out of schools and replacing them with healthy options. They’ve also done a good job making the case that children need opportunities to be physically active, both to be healthier and to learn.

But it’s not enough. Too many schools continue to sell high calorie foods because they need the additional revenue to cover budget shortfalls. Too many schools continue to cut physical education classes because they need the time to prepare for tested subjects. Too many schools continue to be built in areas that are only accessible by car or bus, making it impossible for students to walk or bike to school.

This has to change. We must continue to help parents understand that healthy schools are essential to raising healthy children. And we have to let our legislators know that true health reform will require an investment in programs that create schools that support healthy behaviors.

If we can keep our children healthy and nurture the positive behaviors that will help them grow into healthy adults, we will be well on our way to becoming the healthiest nation in one generation.

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