TABLE 5-1 Overall Fitness of Texas Schoolchildren According to Fitnessgram, as presented by Staples

Grade

Students Assessed (n)

% Achieving Healthy Fitness Zone on All Six Fitnessgram Tests

Girls

Boys

3

102,342

33.25

28.6

7

55,441

21.32

17.26

9

39,456

13.9

15.04

12

13,040

8.18

8.96

It exceeds the standards required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We offer fruits and vegetables on all points of service, we restrict fat and sugar content, and we offer dairy and whole grains” (see also Chapter 4). These higher standards have increased participation in the National School Lunch Program, which is driving additional dollars to more Texas schools to enable them to offer healthy meals.

To further advance the progress made in schools, Staples is spearheading an initiative in partnership with the Texas Education Agency and the Department of State Health Services that focuses on the three E’s of healthy living: education, exercise, and eating right. To bolster the eating right component of this initiative, the Texas Department of Agriculture is seeking a $50 million investment from the state legislature to fund healthy food programs in schools, nutrition education curricula, after-school and summer camps, and mentoring programs. The Texas Department of Agriculture is also working with farmers and ranchers at the local level to supply school cafeterias with fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, Staples has created an advisory committee, Healthy Students = Healthy Families, that brings together educators, food service managers, purchasing agents, and health professionals to serve as a conduit for school districts to communicate on policy.

Commissioner Lakey, speaking on behalf of the Department of State Health Services, emphasized that Texas is at the leading edge of efforts to address the obesity epidemic in the nation. He began by presenting some sobering statistics: the proportion of obese Texans increased from 13 percent in 1990 to 29 percent in 2007 (Figure 5-1), while the proportion of individuals of normal weight decreased from roughly 58 percent in 1990 to only 34 percent in 2007.

The approach adopted by the Department of State Health Services to combat obesity is to (1) serve as a catalyst and a resource for other organizations that can harness the support offered to them to implement policies throughout the state, (2) focus on community wellness, and (3) coordinate



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