Philly school effort cuts weight gain
By STEPHANIE NANO, Associated Press Writer
Mon Apr 7, 7:01 AM ET
NEW YORK - Five Philadelphia elementary schools replaced sodas with fruit juice. They scaled back snacks and banished candy. They handed out raffle tickets for wise food choices. They spent hours teaching kids, their parents and teachers about good nutrition.
What have they got to show for it?
The number of kids who got fat during the two-year experiment was half the number of kids who got fat in schools that didn't make those efforts.
"It's a really dramatic effect from a public health point of view. That's the good news," said Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. He is also the lead author of the Philadelphia schools study being published Monday in the April issue of Pediatrics.
The bad news: There were still plenty of new overweight kids in the five schools — over 7 percent of them became overweight compared to the 15 percent in the schools that didn't make changes.
"That signals to me that we have lots more work to do," said Foster.
Schools are ideal settings for programs that target childhood obesity, the researchers noted. Children spend long hours each day at schools and eat lunch and often breakfast at school. But school-based programs have had mixed results.
For as long as parents are allowing public schools to raise their children, schools nationwide should feel obligated to make the necessary changes to limit weight gain. So many students get one or more meals fed to them at school - it only makes sense for them to offer healthy food.
There are lots of parents here...Do YOU support soda machines being taken out of your kids' schools?