The Role of Schools in Preventing Childhood Obesity

A recent survey conducted by Field Research Corp. revealed an interesting public consensus about the role of schools in preventing childhood obesity. The study showed that Americans expect schools to lead on the issue, with 90 percent of respondents endorsing the local K-12 school’s important role in combating childhood obesity.

Moreover, the survey showed that 78% of Americans believe healthier food in schools will increase academic performance, while a similar percentage say that regular physical activity during the school day will boost achievement. These are encouraging indications of public awareness about the importance of a healthy school environment.

Childhood obesity has become a pressing concern in recent years. Today, nearly one in five American children ages 6-19 are obese, and one in three are overweight. According to the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, children consume a third to a half of their daily calories at school, and over 31 million children get their lunches through federally-assisted meal programs. It’s no wonder that Americans overwhelmingly believe that local K-12 schools have a role to play in meeting this challenge.

The public is showing a strong desire to take action and create healthier school environments to address the growing problem of childhood obesity. It is critical, then, that we help our schools meet this challenge. As part of our Green Schools Campaign, Earth Day Network encourages schools to go green in the curricula they teach, facilities they utilize, and food they serve, all in an effort to help create healthy and sustainable environments for our young people. To learn more about Earth Day Network’s work on healthy school foods, check out the National School Lunch Campaign.