Major study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows no progress in physical activity opportunities for children in schools
A new study just released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that while positive changes are being made regarding food selection in schools, no increase in physical activity opportunities have been found in the past four years. “School Policies and Practices to Improve Health and Prevent Obesity,” a study conducted from 2006 – 2010, finds that more elementary schools are offering whole grains and low-fat milks for lunch, but there has been no progress to cut back on foods that are high in fat, sugar and/or sodium, such as pizza and deep-fried potatoes.
There has also been no progress toward achieving the ideal amount of physical activity opportunities. Only 22 percent of public third grade students were offered at least 150 minutes of physical education per week, as recommended by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. The study also found that in 2009 – 10, one-quarter of public elementary school students attended a school with no gymnasium or one that was reported as inadequate. At the same time, 14 percent of public elementary school students had an administrator who indicated that inadequate indoor facilities were a barrier to implementing high-quality physical education programming.
The study’s conclusions provide timely guidance about nutritional guidelines and wellness policies for the USDA to consider as it continues to implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It includes policy opportunities for increasing physical activity that are relevant to the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Findings also can help inform state and local policy-makers about successes and areas where new efforts are needed to create a healthier school environment. Read the full report here.
Your children might not get the proper amount of time to be active during school hours, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time after school. How can you help? Enroll your children in intramural sports or physical activity clubs, where they can work toward meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation of at least 60 minutes of rigorous physical activity per day. If these types of opportunities are not an option, joining your children in simpler, easier-access activities like walking or playing a game are a great alternative. Learn more about the important role parents play in the lives of healthy children here.