Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
School health guidelines to promote healthy eating and physical activity

Prevalence of obesity among 6- to 19-year-olds has tripled to approximately 20% during the past 30 years. The various social environments of youth often do not support healthy eating and regular exercise. The long-term benefits of healthy eating and regular physical activity include increased life expectancy, increased quality of life, and reduced risk for many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.2,3  Intermediate outcomes of healthy eating and regular physical activity include reduced risk for obesity and metabolic syndrome. Given the many hours per day that children and adolescents spend in school settings, schools are logical places to address the childhood obesity epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines that provide a comprehensive framework for schools to address healthy eating and physical activity based on a combination of scientific evidence and expert opinion. External review was conducted by technical advisors expert in school health, education, public health, nutrition, and physical activity. Recommendations provide guidance for improving school policies and practices, school nutrition services, physical education and physical activity programs, health education, family and community involvement, school employee wellness, and professional development for staff members.

Physicians can use these guidelines to support advocacy efforts in their communities that will lead to establishing, implementing, and assessing healthy eating and physical activity practices in their local schools. Examples of specific recommendations from this report are:

School, community, and health care leaders can familiarize themselves with these guidelines and work together towards implementation of practices feasible in their school systems, and advocate for resources or policy changes needed to implement recommended practices which are not now possible.

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