School's Attempt to Lower Childhood Obesity

The HealthGal Health Guide February 09, 2010
  • Two new headlines caught my eye, and both reflect attempts in school to help kids manage their weight. The first is an effort by New York City to help public school kids shave calories out of their day by switching from whole milk to lower fat milk in the school lunch program. On average that switch out meant 25% fewer calories and 81% less fat from a daily beverage that kids love. Best of all, milk consumption did not decrease because of the difference in taste.

     

    New York schools have also replaced white bread with whole wheat and also introduced whole wheat pasta. Guess what? The kids are still eating. It should be noted that chocolate milk, which still contains plenty of sugar and fat, is still the most favorite drink on the school scene. I wish they would try low fat chocolate milk as another swap out. The bottom line is that schools are trying to dent this obesity crisis - I hope parents attempt the same on the home front.

     

    Another headline suggests that timing recess so that playtime occurs before eating can, according to the latest research, possibly have some positive and surprising changes in the lunchroom and the classroom. From an eating perspective, when kids play first and then eat, they consume more milk, fruits and vegetables and they waste less food. Kids also seem to be calmer in the lunchroom, as if they burned of the "ants in their pants" that accumulate after hours of sitting in the classroom, so they sit more calmly in the lunchroom and eat quietly after playtime.

     

    Nurse visits also dropped and so did headaches and stomach aches. Kids are less rushed when they eat because they are no longer missing out on valuable playtime, they've had playtime first. Arizona and Montana have also implemented this approach with some success. One caveat is that a program like this might not be a good fit in an urban setting where low income kids come to school hungry. They need lunch to fill thier very empty stomachs before going out to the playground. But it is a good approach to toss around as efforts to slash obesity rates in kids continue to evolve.

    Think it could work in your kid's school? Worth trying a similar approach at home on the weekends?