Thursday, July 29, 2004

Heavy Or Not - Schools, Fitness and P.E.



On July 29 a live Web chat on school efforts to promote student health had this question:

Question from Mark Rauterkus, parent, Pittsburgh:

Most of our playgrounds are slabs of blacktop and ripe with bullies. How can we get play structures as a higher priority for principals and those with the will to do a make-over for the sake of recess, before school and afterschool times?

Sarah Lee:

Hi Mark, One thing you may want to consider is finding an appropriate assessment tool that would allow for the examination of safety of the schools' facilities and equipment. I do not have a resource for this at my fingertips. This would seem like a first step for assessment. Another resource that may be helpful is the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. This center includes information relating to playground safety. Their website is the following:

Childhood obesity is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States, with the rate of overweight children and adolescents nearly tripling in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the nation's children grow heavier, policymakers, health officials, and interest groups are pressuring schools to provide students with healthier meals and snacks and more time for physical activity during the school day.

Fewer than 35 percent of students today attend daily physical activity classes, and most schools don't require physical education, the CDC reports. At the same time, the federal agency says, half of all districts have a contract that gives a company the rights to sell soft drinks in schools. Some states have already moved to limit the sale of candy and soda in schools, but asking schools to give up the lucrative vending deals offered by companies such as Coca Cola is no small matter. Our panel of expert guests will address your questions on these and other pressing school health issues.


* Rep. Sean Faircloth is a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives who has sponsored comprehensive legislation to help the state's schools address childhood obesity.

* Sarah Lee is the physical activity health scientist in the division of adolescent & school health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

* Jane Mandell is a senior nutritionist in analysis, nutrition, and evaluation with the Food and Nutrition Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The fourth submitted question from this parent in Pittsburgh:

A parks, city, and schools soda bidding war for a 5-year contract might net the public parties some tens of millions of dollars, and even new scoreboards. (Pittsburgh's documented estimate is $50-million, by the way.) How can those incomes be primed in the marketplace when Pepsi and Coke are OUT of the buildings and solutions? Could "Fruit-y-drink-y" whatever have the margins and investment upside for such deal makings? Do soda machines turn on again at 4 pm?

Text transcripts are worth the visit and read.

No comments: