Study Finds Kids Not Receiving Proper Nutrition, Exercise at Schools
California school children are "getting shortchanged in physical education and oversupplied with snack foods," increasing their risk for obesity and other health problems, according to a new statewide study, the Sacramento Bee reports. With funding from the California Endowment, the not-for-profit Public Health Institute in 1999 surveyed 814 families with children ages nine to 11, asking parents about their children's weight, eating and exercise habits and about their physical education programs at school. The survey found that 32% of children were overweight or at risk for being overweight (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 5/9). Other findings from the survey include:
- More than 50% of children surveyed "failed to meet recommended physical activity of moderate and vigorous exercise totaling 60 minutes each day."
- Seventeen percent said they do not receive "any physical education or gym classes at school."
- Sixty percent of children reported receiving nutrition education.
- Nearly one in six had access to soda vending machines at their schools, while 8% had access to candy machines.
- Children who ate school meals "were more likely to get the recommended number of servings of fruits, vegetables, milk and
Lead researcher Carmen Nevarez, medical director for the Berkeley-based institute, said, "Children spend a very large part of their day at school. If there are a lot of junk food items available in the cafeteria, if they're not taught basic nutrition and if they're not getting physical education -- all of these things add up to poor health" (Hayasaki, Los Angeles Times, 5/9). However, some school officials say lack of funds, staff, equipment and time are complicating efforts to prevent childhood obesity. The Bee reports that the survey results could "provide fuel for recent legislative efforts to limit the sale of sodas and high-fat snacks at schools, boost funds for school lunches and require that state laws mandating physical education are followed," the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 5/9). To read the report, go to http://www.calendow.org/press/reports/calcheeps050701.pdf. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.
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