BOX 7-1

Recommendations for Schools from the 2005 IOM report Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance

Schools should provide a consistent environment that is conducive to healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity.

To implement this recommendation:

USDA, state and local authorities, and schools should

  • Develop and implement nutritional standards for all competitive foods and beverages sold or served in schools.

  • Ensure that all school meals meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

  • Develop, implement, and evaluate pilot programs to extend school meal funding in schools with a large percentage of children at high risk of obesity.

State and local education authorities and schools should

  • Ensure that all children and youth participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity during the school day.

  • Expand opportunities for physical activity through: physical education classes; intramural and interscholastic sports programs and other physical activity clubs, programs, and lessons; after-school use of school facilities; use of schools as community centers; and walking- and biking-to-school programs.

  • Enhance health curricula to devote adequate attention to nutrition, physical activity, reducing sedentary behaviors, and energy balance, and to include a behavioral skills focus.

  • Develop, implement, and enforce school policies to create schools that are advertising-free to the greatest possible extent.

  • Involve school health services in obesity prevention efforts.

  • Conduct annual assessments of each student’s weight, height, and gender-and age-specific BMI percentile and make this information available to parents.

  • Perform periodic assessments of each school’s policies and practices related to nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention.

Federal and state departments of education and health and professional organizations should

  • Develop, implement, and evaluate pilot programs to explore innovative approaches to both staffing and teaching about wellness, healthful choices, nutrition, physical activity, and reducing sedentary behaviors. Innovative approaches to recruiting and training appropriate teachers are also needed.

SOURCE: IOM (2005).

In June 2005, the committee sponsored the symposium Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: Focus on Schools in collaboration with the Kansas Health Foundation and sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Appendix F). The symposium was held in Wichita, Kansas and provided the committee with the opportunity to interact with a range of

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