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CDC Reports Schools Are Getting Healthier

Update Date: Aug 27, 2013 11:00 AM EDT

In order to promote a healthy lifestyle and diet, education about nutrition, exercise and other topics has to start at a very young age. Children need to be taught how to care for their bodies early on in order to establish their healthy behaviors. One of the best ways to teach children and guide them in a direction toward healthy living is to start in the schools. Over the past years, schools and school districts have adopted more policies and programs that encourage a more active lifestyle and a better diet. Now, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. schools have shown progress.

"Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in an agency news release according the HealthDay. "Good news for students and parents -- more students have access to healthy food, better physical fitness activities through initiatives such as 'Let's Move,' and campuses that are completely tobacco-free."

The latest report came out of the 2012 survey that looked at how school health policies helped promote certain trends. The survey that was taken assessed eight areas, which were physical education and activity, health services, mental health and social services, nutrition services, healthy and safe school environment, faculty and staff health promotion, and lastly, family and community involvement. The report breaks the progress down into three main sections.

The first one is nutrition. The researchers found three major trends that occurred between 2006 and 2012. First, the percentage of school districts that allowed soft drink companies to advertise their products on school territory fell from around 47 percent to 33.5 percent. Second, the percentage of school districts that started banning junk food from school vending machines rose from around 30 percent to over 43 percent. Third, the amount of school districts that had food contracts focused on nutrition for foods purchased apart from school breakfasts and lunches increased from 55 percent to 73.5 percent. One more major finding from 2000 to 2012 was that districts that provided families with nutritional and caloric information for school meals rose from 35 percent to 53 percent.

The second category that the report focused on was physical education. The report found that from 2000 to 2012, school districts that started mandating physical education classes rose from 83 percent to 94 percent. In 2012, almost 62 percent of school districts agreed to share school or community property that promoted physical activity. For example, over half of the school districts had new agreements with groups such as the YMCA, Boys or Girls Club, or any local parks or recreation departments.

The last section was tobacco use. The researchers reported that from 2000 to 2012, school districts that prohibited any tobacco use during school-related events or activities rose from 47 percent to 67.5 percent. This new set of data shows promising results for schools.

For more, visit the CDC website here

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