AAP Childhood Overweight and Obesity
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Schools, Childcare, and Before and After School Programs

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified, establishing healthy behaviors during childhood is easier and more effective than trying to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood. Schools have a critical role to play in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behavior patterns because

  • Each school day is an opportunity for the nation's 55 million students to learn about health and practice the skills that promote healthy behaviors.
  • The nation's 125,000 schools provide many opportunities for students to practice healthy behaviors such as eating healthy foods and participating in physical activity.

Working with schools, childcare facilities, and before/afterschool programs is an excellent way to improve children's health.  However, with any community approach it is important to identify the best way to partner with your local school.  This may be through the Parent Teacher Organization, the School Board, a Wellness Committee or some other mechanism.  To learn more about school health visit our links below and scroll down further for more specific information on wellness policies.
If you are a pediatrician and interested in learning about pediatrician's role in school health or are already a school consultant, the AAP Council on School Health ( http://www.aap.org/sections/schoolhealth/) is the Web site is for you.
Lastly, if you are interested in learning more about specific curricula or organizations that support schools in creating healthy active environments and curricula visit the Helpful Links tab.


General Information About School Health:

Actions for Healthy Kids

A national nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the epidemic of overweight, undernourished and sedentary youth by focusing on changes in schools. At work in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to improve children's nutrition and increase physical activity, which will in turn improve their readiness to learn.

Alliance for a Healthier Generation – Healthy Schools Program
Any school in the United States can join the Healthy Schools Program and make a difference in the lives of students. We know each school is unique and faces different challenges so our support is customized and offers these benefits to propel each school to a healthier environment:

CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH): Childhood Overweight
Contains data, science-based strategies, policy guidance, and information about national, state, and local programs to address child and adolescent overweight and obesity. Resources and initiatives include:

    Healthy Schools Healthy Youth
    Centers for Disease Control and Preventions web site for healthy schools Healthy Youth. The specific section of the site devoted to obesity can be found at: Healthy Schools Healthy Youth – Childhood Overweight and Make a Difference at Your School Key Strategies to Prevent Obesity.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviews scientific evidence to determine which school-based policies and practices are most likely to improve key health behaviors among young people, including physical activity and healthy eating. Based on these reviews, CDC has identified 10 strategies to help schools prevent obesity by promoting physical activity and healthy eating. CDC and its partners have developed user-friendly tools that help schools:

    Body Mass Index Measurement in Schools
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produced "Body Mass Index Measurement in Schools" to describe the purpose of school-based BMI surveillance and screening programs, examine current practices, and review research on BMI measurement programs. The article summarizes the recommendations of experts, identifies concerns surrounding programs, and outlines needs for future research.

The Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT)
Helps school districts conduct a clear, complete, and consistent analysis of written physical education curricula, based upon national physical education standards. The PECAT is customizable to include local standards. The results from the analysis can help school districts enhance existing curricula, develop their own curricula, or select a published curriculum, for the delivery of quality physical education in schools.

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Wellness Policy Information:

Congress recognized that schools play a critical role in promoting student health, preventing childhood obesity, and combating problems associated with poor nutrition and physical inactivity. To formalize and encourage this role, Congress passed a law (P.L. 108 - 265). Each local educational agency participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006. Wellness policies provide an excellent opportunity for healthcare professionals and parents to become involved in school health. The following links are provided for more information about wellness policies.

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