The Medical Minute: Parents and schools can team up to beat obesity

August 25, 2010 By Donna Kephart

With the launch of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign this past February, now more than ever schools are being placed at the forefront of addressing the childhood obesity epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three children is considered obese or overweight, and the percentage of children who are overweight has tripled in the past 30 years.

It’s no surprise that healthy students make better students -- research indicates that students who eat well and engage in regular physical active are more attentive, ready to learn and better able to take advantage of educational opportunities.

Back-to-school time is the perfect time to find out how your child’s might be encouraging kids to eat right and be active every day -- and to learn how you can help.

This school year, 830 schools throughout the commonwealth have committed to providing a healthy school environment to the students they serve through the nrgBalance Zone campaign, led by the Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. By promoting nutrition and physical activity throughout the school year, these public and private schools (grades K-12) are helping youth establish good health habits for life. This year, parents and other caregivers are being encouraged to get involved so the health lessons children are learning at school can be supported at home as well.

The annual nrgBalance Zone campaign assists school health leaders with wellness policy implementation by providing school personnel with free programs, resources, outreach opportunities and professional development training. The goal is to help foster environments that support children eating well and being physically active.

The center leads fun, one-day events promoting apples in October, green vegetables in March, and outdoor play in April. It also provides schools with lessons and activities around walking and pedestrian safety, outdoor recreation, and nutrition education. To date, the campaign has reached nearly 2 million Pennsylvania youth.

Through the center’s website, , schools have access to free, online health education materials -- fact sheets, goal setting forms, newsletter inserts -- that can be used to educate parents on the importance of eating well and being physically active and tips to get started at home.
Also on the website, parents and caregivers can access information on how to eat healthier, including meal/snack recipes, tips for dining out, meal planners, grocery shopping lists and suggestions for making family time active time.

To find out if a school near you is participating in the nrgBalance Zone campaign, visit and search by county.

Explore further: Changing school environment curbs weight gain in children

Related Stories

Changing school environment curbs weight gain in children

April 7, 2008

Small changes in schools lead to big results when it comes to preventing childhood obesity, according to a study published in the April issue of Pediatrics. The school-based intervention, which reduced the incidence of overweight ...

Study shows parents back junk-food ban in schools

September 28, 2009

( -- The issues surrounding children being overweight or obese plague society. In fact, the prevalence of these rates has tripled in the past three decades. But the University of Alberta's Paul Veugelers and Marg ...

Active and healthy schools get kids moving

May 19, 2010

Last month, first lady Michelle Obama launched "Let's Move," a new campaign to combat childhood obesity. The initiative seeks to improve school nutrition programs and promote physical activity. In Missouri, one elementary ...

Schools, communities share responsibility for child nutrition

August 9, 2010

The American Dietetic Association has published an updated position paper on local support for nutrition integrity in schools that calls on schools and communities to work together to provide healthful and affordable meals ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Aug 25, 2010
I laugh when Michelle Obama talks about eating right, then right afterwoods goes and have ice cream, and just lately had a --gasp-- hamburger on their last vacation.

I think this is more laughable progressive do as I say, not as I do.

Serously, school lunches are a joke. I much prefer my kids take their lunch to school as what we feed them is much healthier than what they would get there. We only let them buy lunch at school for a treat.

Second, we need to let kids be kids let them have recess, and play tag and many other games that have been banned.

It just makes me sad that government sets up school lunches and often times makes it hard to send lunches to school with your kids.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2010
I laugh when Michelle Obama talks about eating right, then right afterwoods goes and have ice cream, and just lately had a --gasp-- hamburger on their last vacation.
Who said eating right means that you can't eat junk from time to time? The message is, don't eat junk ALL the time.

Second, we need to let kids be kids let them have recess, and play tag and many other games that have been banned.
Complete agreement. Accidents happen and bad parents need to recognize that if their kid gets a skinned knee, suing the school isn't a correct course of action.
not rated yet Aug 26, 2010
I am not against junk food (my down fall salty french fries, soft icecream, buttercream cake, and dark beer). What I object to with Michell Obama was that we the common folk are too stupid to know what to eat, so she and the government can tell us what to eat, however she and her family live very unhealthy lives (he smokes, her kids by her admission are over weight). Progressives want to limit salt, fat, etc. for us commoners. But for them flying private jets, eating hamburgers, fries, etc. is ok... lets say I have a problem with hypocrites.

BTW I'm at normal weight and fit. Moderation and exercise.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.