American Heart Association Recommends Teaching Obesity Prevention in Schools
Schools should be "more aggressive" in educating children both in school and during after-school programs about heart disease and should promote physical education classes, heart-healthy meals and a tobacco-free environment, according to an American Heart Association statement published Monday in the journal Circulation, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. Laura Hayman, author of the statement and a New York University and Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute professor, studied national data that shows about 80% of children do not receive the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and 44% of high school students are not in physical education classes.
In the statement, AHA recommends educating children about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and how to avoid it. The group also recommends that physical education be required at least three times per week from kindergarten through 12th grade, with 150 minutes weekly for elementary students and at least 225 minutes weekly for middle school students. Hayman said, "Through schools, hopefully you can reach the children, teachers and parents." Catherine Webb, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine who works on an AHA council on cardiovascular disease among young people, said, "When a child starts to bring home knowledge, then the family, I think, will jump on the bandwagon" (Stengle, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/11). The statement is available online.