Getting Kids Healthy and Fit
How school-based programs are tackling childhood obesity.
According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. If this trend continues, today’s children could become the first generation of Americans with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. In an effort to combat this childhood obesity epidemic, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the “Let’s Move” campaign. Here is a roundup of programs introduced nationwide to schools that work towards this goal.
Fuel Up To Play 60 • fueluptoplay60.com
This nutrition and physical activity program was launched by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kids are encouraged to “fuel up” with nutrient rich foods and play for at least 60 minutes a day.
“Over 90 percent of Shelby County Schools (SCS) are currently Fuel Up To Play 60 schools,” points out Shunji Brown-Woods, SCS director of coordinated school health. Programs like these “empower students and schools to expand their knowledge about the impact of health status on academic achievement and childhood obesity prevention.”
More than 70,000 schools nationwide are enrolled in Fuel Up. Since the program has ties with the National Dairy Council, one training table tip includes building stronger bones by drinking four cups of low-fat/fat-free milk/equivalent milk products each day.
OrganWise Guys • organwiseguys.com
This comprehensive preschool/elementary curriculum is built around engaging, life-sized characters that personify the major organs of the body and teach children the importance of eating well and being active.
Now used in 5,000 schools across 20 states, OrganWise focuses on school lessons, home-based games, and online activities.
The Tennessee Office of Coordinated School Health collaborated with OrganWise and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to offer this program to 50 schools in 2012-13. Currently 11 schools in the SCS system receive three-year support in the form of materials and activity books.
Four rules are highlighted: Eat low-fat foods, eat high fiber foods, drink lots of water, and get plenty of exercise. Characters Hardy Heart, Sir Rebrum (the brain), Madame Muscle, and Calci M. Bone convey the message of eating right and exercising.
Fit 4 the Classroom • fit4theclassroom.com
Stanford Health, WebMd, and Discovery Education launched this program for elementary educators, students, and families to promote healthy food choices and active lifestyle. It integrates health education into school curriculums, supported by standards-aligned Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-based materials.
The program is based on the four pillars of fit: Food, Move, Recharge, and Mood. For the theme Mood, the topic Mood & Food identifies healthy responses to stress and fatigue by using case study characters from an article entitled “Am I Hungry? A Food Fable” – Bored Beth, Tired Thomas, Sad Scott, and Hungry Hannah.
Since it launched this fall, schools are now enrolling. Fit is designed to move nutrition and wellness education from the gym and the cafeteria into the classroom. It helps take those important health lessons that families encourage at home continue into the classroom.