Childhood Obesity

By: Rayne McKenzie
By: Rayne McKenzie

Nutrition experts say by the end of this decade, 1-in-5 children will be obese.

Millions more are already overweight and Alabama’s school board is implementing changes to help with this growing problem.

After years of watching the obesity trend rise, local school systems are finally taking notice.

Now, both Houston County and the city school system are making changes to their menus to promote healthier lifestyles.

This school year, students are seeing many subtle changes in their snack and meal options.

The state board of education is mandating regular sodas be taken out of schools and replaced with diet drinks and water.

The board also recommends that candy not be offered, and local school officials say they are noticing their profits dwindling with the new program.

"The state nutrition committee is also recommending that foods not be fried and as of July 1st, 2006 schools can no longer use child nutrition program funds to purchase new fryers for school breakfast or lunch. Schools understand the boards concerns about child wellness,” said Andrew Faircloth with the Houston County Wellness Plan Team.

"There's concern about obesity among kids and we're addressing that [because] kids spend a lot of their day with us," said Dothan Schools Director of Child Nutrition, Tonya Grier.

The board is also recommending increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables offered in school and ensuring that students have the opportunity to participate in physical activity at least 60 minutes a day.

At first glance, the new program seems nothing but positive, after all, who wouldn't like to see children healthy and in good shape.

However, there are downsides. The program is also affecting fundraising. Now, there are no more donut sales, so organizations will have to be more creative.

Also, parents and students can't bring in cup cakes or ice cream to celebrate a holiday. So, this is really having an effect on several aspects of school life.

Parents are still allowed to send cokes or candy with their children to school.

Kids just won't be allowed to purchase them during the school day.


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