Teacher Association to promote health and wellness and prevent obesity (PTA, 2006). Parents can make the school environment healthier by advocating for the greater availability of low-calorie and nutrient-dense food and beverage products in vending machines and expanding opportunities for their children to be physically active throughout the school day. The Child Nutrition and WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-265) required school districts to involve parents in the process of establishing a local school wellness policy by the 2006–2007 school year (CNWICRA, 2004) (Chapters 4 and 7).
State-level efforts are also actively engaging parents. Recent legislation proposed or passed in many states requires parental representation on state and school advisory committees or task forces established to prevent childhood obesity (CDC, 2005; NCSL, 2006). For example, elementary, middle, and junior high schools in Texas are required to adopt by 2007 a state-approved coordinated school health program that includes a strong parental involvement component (Texas Department of State Health Services, 2006). Additionally, Oklahoma enacted legislation that requires each public school to establish a Healthy and Fit School Advisory Committee comprised of teachers, administrators, parents, health care professionals, and business community representatives to examine and make recommendations to the school principal regarding health education, physical education and physical activity, and nutrition and health services (NCSL, 2006).
Families in the United States face many potential opportunities and challenges that influence the efforts of household members to engage in healthy behaviors. The challenges include the stresses and pressures of daily living, along with economic and time constraints that make healthful eating and daily physical activity difficult for many families to achieve (Devine et al., 2003). The Health in the Balance report acknowledged that since the early 1970s expanded job opportunities as well as economic necessities have led to the entry of more women into the work force (IOM, 2005). In an estimated 62.4 percent of two-parent households, both parents are working; and in single-parent households, more than three-quarters of mothers (77.1 percent) and fathers (88.7 percent) are working (Fields, 2003). In 2004, both parents of 59 percent of children under 6 years of age were in the labor force and neither parent of 10 percent of children under 6 years of age was in the work force (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2006). In addition to long work and commute hours, many families have busy schedules, with both parents and their children participating in activities outside the home, all of which can lead to reduced time for free play or for families to engage