Education Chat

Chat Transcript: Responding to Childhood Obesity Through School Policy

Three student health experts respond questions about school health policy, physical education, child nutrition, and childhood obesity.

Responding to Childhood Obesity Through School Policy

About the Guests:

  • Rep. Sean Faircloth, a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives who has sponsored comprehensive legislation to help the state’s schools address childhood obesity;
  • Sarah Lee, the physical activity health scientist in the division of adolescent & school health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
  • Jane Mandell, a senior nutritionist in analysis, nutrition, and evaluation with the Food and Nutrition Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Susan Ansell (Moderator):
Welcome, everyone, to Education Week‘s TalkBack Live chat on the topic of student health. We’re excited to be joined by three student health experts who can respond to your questions about school health policy, physical education, child nutrition, and childhood obesity. Outside of the home, children spend most of their time in school. As a result, student health has become an issue both parents and schools must address. The purpose of this chat is to find out more about what schools can do and are doing to improve students’ health and help curb the obesity epidemic. So on to your questions...

Question from :
What percentage of students/teachers and adults are currently overweight?

Jane Mandell:
Approximately 15% of children and adolescents are overweight and approximately 65% of adults are overweight or obese. We do not have data specifically on teachers.

Question from Bill Ferrara, Assistant Principal, Salisbury High School:
With all of the evidence about obesity in children, why is there not a strong push to require physical education five-times a week for all students? Funding should be provided for special programs to help students that are obese.

Sarah Lee:
Yes, the evidence has accumulated over several decades to reveal the increase in overweight among young people. We are fortunate to be able to track this type of public health information in order to respond to such issues. One method of response is the promotion of both regular physical activity (during and after the school day) and healthy eating habits. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes the implementation of regular, daily physical education as a primary method for increasing physical activity opportunities (this is found in the Guidelines for School & Community Programs to Promote Lifelong Physical Activity Among Young People). This (daily physical education) is also a goal within Healthy People 2010 (health goals for the nation). In addition to these two promotions for daily physical education, several national organizations strongly encourage this for schools. One major emphasis is on the implementation of quality physical education, which involves meaningful content, appropriate instruction, and the opportunity to learn. This is supported and promoted by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). The focus is on providing youth with the knowledge, skills, etc. to adhere to physical activity for a lifetime.

Question from Paul Lowe, Principal, Lamoille Union Middle School (VT):
I’d appreciate panelists’ thoughts on workable ways to reduce or eliminate unhealthy items from vending machines--not just soda, but fruit drinks, many products in “dairy” machines, etc. Kids want them and they’re money-makers.

Rep. Sean Faircloth:
Paul, You may find the following information useful. Making It Happen is a document that will be released by the end of 2004.

Making It Happen – School Nutrition Success Stories (MIH) tells the stories of 32 schools and school districts that have implemented innovative strategies to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages offered and sold on school campuses.

MIH was designed to serve as a resource to help interested persons positively impact school nutrition environments and contains strategies appropriate for a variety of grade levels. MIH is a joint project of the Food and Nutrition Service of USDA and the Division of Adolescent and School Health of CDC/DHHS, undertaken as part of the Healthier Children and Youth Memorandum of Understanding between the two departments and the Department of Education.

The MIH success stories illustrate a wide variety of approaches that schools have taken to improve student nutrition and “competitive foods,” the foods and beverages offered outside federally regulated school meal programs. The most consistent theme emerging from these case studies is that students will buy and consume healthful foods and beverages—and schools can make money from healthful options.

The six approaches highlighted in MIH are:

1. Establish nutrition standards for competitive foods.

2. Influence food and beverage contracts.

3. Make more healthful foods and beverages available.

4. Adopt marketing techniques to promote healthful choices.

5. Limit student access to competitive foods.

6. Use fundraising activities and rewards that support student health.

Question from Kristen Bender, Publications Assistant, The Challenge Newsletter (Produced on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools):
With the focus right now on assessment and academic achievement, how can schools and teachers balance meeting the academic requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and incorporating good physical education programs into the curriculum?

What can classroom teachers do, especially those who work with elementary school-age children do, to encourage healthy nutrition habits?

Jane Mandell:
Certainly, teachers are faced with many challenges in meeting the requirements for academic achievement. We have tried to make available nutrition education materials that are ready to use for teachers and others interested in promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity habits. Check out our website for Eat Smart. Play Hard and Team Nutrition materials for teachers, students, parents and school nutrition professionals.

Question from Adeena Jacoby, Graduate Student, UC, Santa Cruz:
Has anyone considered a “walk or bike to school” program? I am interested in the research and development of this concept. Who may I contact for funding and implementing this concept?

Sarah Lee:
Hello Adeena, There are several areas around the country that have developed and implemented walk and/or bike to school programs. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created KidsWalk-to-School, a community based program that focuses on increasing physical activity opportunities for youth and on collaborations between schools and other community organizations. Although it is called KidsWalk, there are also resources for promotion of biking to school. There are several resources for KidsWalk-to-School which can be found at the following website:

Additionally, fairly close to you in Marin County, a safe routes to school program has been implemented and includes numerous community and school personnel. Although I cannot speak to the success of this program, they have made many efforts for evaluating it. In fact, an article about this program was published in the September 2003 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Another place to look for information is the International Walk to School website. International Walk to School week is October 4-8, 2004. Their website,, offers many additional links for creating ongoing programs.

Question from Heather MacDonald, Registered Dietitian, Head Start/ Early Head Start, NH:
How do the schools provide healthier meals when the funding can’t support healthier food choices? The commodities are scarce and not always top quality. How do we get the word out that schools can make money without promoting unhealthy vending choices? I know many schools are resisting the change simply because they are not getting enough funding to support programs, curriculum and training.

Jane Mandell:
We have feedback from many schools that students will buy and consume healthful foods and beverages--and schools can and do make as much or more money from selling healthful foods and beverages. A new resource “Making It Happen” will be available on our website later this fall which shares success stories. This is a collaborative effort between CDC and FNS with support from Department of Education. School districts can check with their State Departments of Education for more information on commodities and providing healthier meals. Conducting taste tests with students is a helpful way to find acceptable healthful foods.

Question from Al Quackenbush, Physical Educator/Coach, Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY:
The issue of childhood obesity has been well documented over the past couple of years through the media and research. Unfortunately in New York, existing physical education programs and time allotted to these curriculums are at risk of being cut or reduced due to the pressure to raise standardized testing scores and make more time available for academic instruction, to meet state and national standards.

What recommendations can you make to policymakers and administrators, other than documenting the research and trends, in an effort to advocate in this area, within their districts?

Sarah Lee:
Hello Al! Thank you for your question. When moving beyond the documentation of childhood overweight trends and focusing on the promotion of lifestyle behaviors that influence those trends, it is important to stress the signficance of physical education. First, in its Gudielines for School & Community Programs to Promote Lifelong Physical Activity Among Young People, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that daily physical education be offered and required for K-12 students. Additionally, Healthy People 2010 (comprehensive health goals and objectives for the nation) includes one objective specifically related to increasing the proportion of schools that offer daily physical education (objective 22-8). A second related objective is to increase the proportion of adolescents who participate in daily physical education (22-9).

In particular, this should be quality physical education, which focuses on three main components: the opportunity to learn, meaningful content, and appropriate instruction. These are highlighted by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. Additionally, quality physical education is driven by national phsyical education standards. These set the framework for a developmentally appropriate learning process that results in students being physically educated. Physical education is part of the whole educational experience.

While physical education cannot address every factor that is related to obesity, it does provide a very solid foundation in which students learn about how their bodies move, the health-related benefits of regular physical activity, and specific skills that will allow them to remain active throughout a lifetime (among many other items).

Question from Maurice Regan, Assistant Prof., Southern NH University:
Aside from not providing unhealthy foods and providing nutrition information in health class, why is obesity a school problem?

Jane Mandell:
Certainly obesity is not solely a school problem, rather it is a problem at home, in the community and in the environments where we live. However, most children and adolescents spend a significant part of their day at school thus providing an opportunity to positively influence the eating and physical activity behaviors of students.

Question from Marty Solomon, Ph.D.,, Fayette County, Kentucky:
Sweetened beverages are clearly a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic, but since their sale produces school revenues, board members, porincipals and teachers are not willing to eliminate them from the schools. What can be done?

Rep. Sean Faircloth:
In Calais Maine we saw no signficant decrease when offering healthy choices. Youth have money in their pocket. They use their money on healthy choices. I believe we saw similar experiences in Minneapolis and Philly. Also we need more freedom of choice. If you go to all vending machines within a mile mile radius of your local high school, you’ll find overwhelming numbers of soda choices, but little to no 100% juice and non-fat milk. We need an island of health in a sea of junk. That island should be the public school. Since there in NOT a major loss of revenue from switching to healthy choices, opponents have no argument.

Question from Michael Rulon, professional developement specialist, RI. former health PE teacher wyo.:
Do you agree with the statement: PE is a great tool to combat negative health concerns with children, but with the way these programs currently are implimented they do little to solve complex problems like these. A comprehensive health education program in every school will be what truly helps students understand these concerns and do something about them.?

Sarah Lee:
Hi Michael, At the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, we strongly focus on the coordinated school health program model (CSHP). Within this model are 8 components: health education, physical education, health services, nutrition services, counseling, psychological and social services, healthy school environment, health promotion for staff, and family/community involvement. In other words, this is a broad, comprehensive approach to addressing the health needs of young people. Schools, in collaboration with community organiations and families, assist youth in achieving positive health outcomes. Physical education by itself cannot address all of the health needs (physical, psychological, etc.) of youth, but it is contained within the CSHP model and it is important for overall health. Of particular importance to physical education is that it be a quality program. This includes the promotion of skills and practices to be physically active throughout life and to know the health-related benefits of being regularly physically active.

Question from Beyene Robi, sub-teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools . MD:
[1] Who are most vulnerable [students] in terms of: range of age, ethnic-background, and gender?

[2] From previous experiences, what are the different obesity prevention and cure methods available to schools?

Jane Mandell:
Team Nutrition is partnering with the National Association of School Nurses to present their Healhty Weights workshops around the country. A key piece of the workshop is the Team Nutrition Changing the Scene kit. To get more information, consult the NASN website. Rates of overweight are higher among children and adolescents of lower socio-economic levels and Mexican-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Africian-Americans and Native Americans. Check the CDC website from specific data on overweight rates.

Question from Tina Hamolsky, special educator, Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School:
It is my hope to start an after school “fitness” program in our middle school for both special needs and “typically developing” middle schoolers. Any suggestions for activities or sites for further info?

Sarah Lee:
Hi Tina, Creating after-school programs is a great opportunity for students to increase their daily physical activity. It is important to decide up front whether you want this program to be focused on physical activity (the process) or physical fitness (the product). These are two different things. Physical activity, particularly at moderate and vigorous levels, does assist in improving physical fitness.

If the goal is to help increase the physical activity of students, any number of lifestyle activities could be utilized. For example, walking clubs or other types of physical activity clubs can be used to promote lifestyle activity. Pedometers are a method of tracking walking (# of steps) and games can certainly be developed by using the pedometers. Because this is an after school program, it would be interesting to hear what types of activities the students really enjoy and even adapting different activities to meet the needs of all students can be accomplished.

If you are hoping to assist students with improving health-related fitness, which includes cariovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility, there are activities that contribute to these components. Again, depending on the interests of students as well as the access to facilities and equipment, a number of activities could be utilized. As an example, walking, biking, hiking, and other recreation activities will contribute to health-related fitness (primarily the cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance).

I have less experience working with students with special needs, so I cannot direct you to any specific resources. Keep in mind the developmental level of students, their interests, your resources, and what the goal of your program will be. While moderate intensity weight training (that could be done in a physical activity circuit) can help improve muscular endurance and strength, I do not know the developmental levels of your students to be able to suggest those type of activities.

Question from Jeanne Surface, Superintendent , Meeteetse Wyoming:
We have removed Soda from our school vending machines as one of our goals to improve the health of our students. One of our principal concerns is the serious depth of apathy among our youth. Certainly, apathy must somehow be correlated to obesity, sendentary life styles and perhaps may even be related to the increased pressure for student performance on standardized tests. I’m concerned about the emotional wellbeing of our students and wonder about the level of depression among our youth as well. What goals can be used to address this apathy?

Rep. Sean Faircloth:
Good news about removing soda! Is it 24/7 healthy choices or just during school hours?

Apathy. Gosh, if I knew the answer there! One suggestion related to the topic: Get youth involved. We are working on a movement in Maine called Freedom from Commercialization of Public Schools. Public schools should promote a sound mind in a sound body; public schools should not serve as the marketing wing of corporations. Corporations have TV, convenience stores, billboards, t-shirts, you name it. Schools should serve as a last island of independant ideas and truth-seeking.

Youth find this point appealing. In Maine an assistant editorial page editor that used to play in his high school band was stunned at the value of a “tremendous deal” offered by a soda distributor. The soda distributor was giving the school a stadium sign. The soda distributor attributed a huge dollar value to that in-kind gift. In exchange they got exclusive pouring rights and advertising rights on campus. Turns out the sign was worth nowhere near the amount the bottler claimed. Meanwhile their exclusivity was quite valuable and lasted many years. Youth can sometimes feel empowered by speaking out for Freedom from Commercialization. Youth can learn about the REAL value to the school, and to the bottler, of unhealthy choices and decide for themselves whether unhealthy choices are worth what is claimed, especially in comparison to the public health costs.

If youth analyze the issue of commercialization of public schools, an issue which directly affects them, they then may speak out for Freedom from Commercialization. This will help move beyond apathy.

Question from Rebecca D., Teacher, New Jersey:
Can a parent be charged with child endangerment if their child is extremely obese?

Jane Mandell:
Check with Child Protection Services in your State or county.

Question from Shelly Raemer, Physical Education Teacher, Heritage Elementary and COAHPERD Past President:
In your statement regarding the chat on childhood obesity becoming an epidimic in the US, you stated that schools are being pressured to provide healthier lunches and more physical activity time. In the state of Colorado we, at the school level, are feeling only the pressure of students performing well on standardized tests. In fact, many physical education programs are being cut in order to hire “reading” specialists, etc.

Also, our State AAHPERD has unsuccessfully tried working with our legislature to mandate daily, quality physical education. However, we are a local control state and our legislature will not tell school districts what to do.

How can I, as a physical education teacher very concerned about the health of our youth, provide more physical activity when my school district puts more and more energy and money into programs that increase standardized test scores?

Sarah Lee:
We certainly recognize that health and physical education programming can be difficult within the climate of academic testing. There are some opportunities to promote physical activity to students during the school day and even in the classroom. For low to no cost, incoroprating physical activity breaks within the classroom is one option. This can even be integrated into existing curriculum.

Additionally, during physical education, students (even when moving) can learn about movement and motor skills that contribute to overall health and the health-related benefits of daily physical activity. These are examples of utilizing existing resources and opportunities to promote physical activity within the school.

Question from Karen Robinson, consultant, Dallas Public Schools:
To what extend are districts/schools actively educating and involving parents and other community members in this challenge? Serving “healthy” meals is useless if students don’t eat them and parents do not encourage healthy habits (including exercise) at home.

Jane Mandell:
We do not know to what extent school districts are educating parent and community members on the need to promote healthy eating and active living among students. We do know that many are interested in this subject based on the requests we have received for our educational and promotional materials, Eat Smart. Play Hard.™. The resources are available from our web site at by clicking on the nutrition education button. We also have many Team Nutrition materials that can assist school districts in assessing their schools’ environments and helping them mobilize community efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity behaviors. Much of the information on our website is downloadable and/or available to schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program

Question from Reg Marin Special Ed.Teacher Henry W. Grady High School Atlanta, Ga.:
Kid’s are getting fatter for more reasons than PE Classes and School Meals. Yes we have to improve in both areas, but the resoposibility lies at home. Times have changed and the school yards,ballfields are empty on weekends and most evenings.How do we engage parents to partner with the schools in gettiny these kids to MOVE instead of SIT? Good habits and nutrition start at home.

Sarah Lee:
Certainly the home is a critical part of young people’s development, including healthy habits. One step to consider is using the School Health Index (SHI), which is an assessment and planning guide for physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco-use prevention, and safety policies and programs. The SHI was developed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with school health experts, school administrators and staff, parents, and national organizations. The SHI is based upon the coordinated school health program model from the CDC, which includes 8 components: family & community involvement, health & safety policies & environment, health education, physical education & other physical activity programs, nutrition services, health services, counseling, psychological & social services, and health promotion for staff.

The involvement of all entities is important for future program development and change. As you can see family and community involvement is one of the components. By engaging a group of individuals to utilize the SHI, you may find that others feel the same and want to contribute to making changes particularly with family involvement (in your case). It may also be of interest to involve local agencies and organizations who specialize in working with parents and families.

With that said, schools are obviously a strong entity in promoting healthy lifestyles for all students because millionso of young people. With the coordinated school health program model approach, the involvement of family and community can enhance what schools are doing.

Question from Julie Stroeve, K-6 teacher, Minneapolis:
Yes, children are obese. So are their parents and friends. Junk food, bad diets, and zero exercise are the causes. This is not a public school issue; this is a public HEALTH issue. What can I do to shift the conversation and legislation to public health and away from public education?

Rep. Sean Faircloth:
Hi Julie,

It is too a public school issue. It is also a junk food issue (served in most public schools by the way). It is also an exercise issue (public schools play a big role in this). We ALL must take responsibility.

Freedom is the answer. Let me tell you what I mean: 1. Freedom of Caloric Information. Almost half the American food dollar is spent outside the home. Give parents the information at the point of sale at major chain restaurants about calories. People can’t take personal responsibility if they don’t have info. It costs industry zero as they have the info already and they already customize menu prices. 2. Freedom of Transportation Choice. People in the Netherlands and Canada have more freedom of transportation choice than Americans. Their towns are designed with options for walking, biking, and, yes, cars. In America we subsidize auto transport to the detriment of other forms of transport. Return to freedom of choice. Invest 1%(or more) of gas tax money in walking and biking trails in-town so people get out and safely get to school by foot and bike. 3. Freedom from Commercialization of Public Schools. Set a health standard for food sold in public schools. Apply that standard not just to the lunch program itself. Apply it to the “competitive foods” and to the vending machines. 4. And finally, yes, bring back more phys ed in schools. No one approach will work. All this increased freedom and healthy options together will certainly help.

Question from Eileen Dolmage, RN, BSN -- School Nurse -- Salr River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community School District:
I am the school nurse for 3 district schools -- ranging from childcare and Head Start thru high school. The population served are mostly reservation community members. Our community has one of the highest type 2 diabetes rates in the nation. Obesity is the big sister to the diabetes. We weigh and measure the students in Head Start, kindergarten, and (time permitting) first grade. We do not do anything with this information -- for the most part. We need to move past JUST weighing and measuring, but what is out there to help us?

Jane Mandell:
Eileen, Team Nutrition has several matrials that may be helpful. Nibbles for Health is a collection of newsletters for parents of young children. Also, changing the day care and school environment is often a key part of the solution - use Changing the Scene to get a team together, including parents, to make some positive changes. Go to for these FREE materials. Also, check the website for educational and promotional materials as part of our Eat Smart. Play Hard. Campaign.

Question from Dan Dahlke, MSW, Columbia, SC:
Besides the Carol M. White Physical Education grants, do you anticipate any new Federal grant programs to assist in the prevention of childhood obesity in our schools?

Sarah Lee:
Hello Dan, Currently, the Carol M. White Physical Education grant is one of the largest and is dedicated to physical education programs. In regards to childhood obesity prevention within a school-based framework, there are currently initiatives and programs that include funding opportunities. First, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has a State-Based Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases. More information about this program can be found at This gives an overview of the program and the states that are funded. Many of the states can/do choose to focus on youth populations.

Secondly, the Steps to a Healthier U.S. initiative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There have been opportunities for communities to apply for funding to prevent diabetes, asthma and obesity. For more information about this initiative, the website is:

Comment from Su Li, MPA, Elk Grove Village, IL:
In following up with Michael’s question and Sarah’s answer earlier regarding physical education, I think the key here is the word “quality” - as Sarah duely pointed out. While concerning professionals from both the education and health communities work hard to push for daily physical activity, are there effective strategies schools can use - strategies on How PE classes can be designed and implemented with a high quality outcome in student health and life long behavior, rather than we are simply looking for a check mark in the school’s annual report? Thanks.

Question from Dedra Fischer-Dobson, Special Education Teacher, Santa Paula High School:
I find that teaching Health has also lost it’s place in general education as well as special education. Is there not some way we can stress that as equally important as math, science, etc.? There’s something to be said about the curriculum of yesteryear.

Jane Mandell:
We agree that Health Education including promoting healhty eating and physical activity are key to academic, mental and physical success. Since education issues are usually handled at the State and local levels, these concerns should be raised with local and State school boards.

Question from Kathy Cook, CoFounder, Kansas Families United for Public Education:
With State funds falling short to provide adequate funding, we have state legislators suggesting that we tax candy and pop machines in schools to help on a local level. I would prefer to see the machines gone. While our organization’s goal is to improve funding, I think a measure like this is counterproductive. How would you respond to this kind of recommendation?

Rep. Sean Faircloth:
Kathy, Candy is sometimes difficult to define. We had a “snack tax” in Maine which was repealed in response to huge complaints from convenience store owners about the complexity of definition.

Apply a minimum nutritional value standard (or an even stronger standard) to all food sold in schools, including vending. Nothing wrong with selling healthy choices in vending machines (water, non-fat milk, 100% juice). Profits will NOT decrease significantly.

As for a tax, consider a tax on a frill -- soda -- that applies to all soda sold in the state. You have many necessities in your state. Don’t tax those. Tax frills (booze, soda, cigs) and use the proceeds to promote physical activity funding in schools. Unlike snacks and candy, soda is easy to define.

Question from Nicole Woo, Senior Policy Analyst, Food Research and Action Center:
For Rep. Faircloth: There is solid evidence that participating in school breakfast improves children’s diets and even helps prevent childhood obesity. Maine is one of 14 states in the nation that does not have any state legislation that provides extra funds and/or requires school breakfast in certain schools. Would you support Maine legislation in support of school breakfast?

Rep. Sean Faircloth:

Probably. You are the first person to ask. I’d need to study it further, but if the data supports it, it sounds good to me. Sean

Question from Mark Rauterkus, parent, Pittsburgh:
Most of our playgrounds are slabs of blacktop and ripe with bullies. How can we get play structures as a higher priority for principals and those with the will to do a make-over for the sake of recess, before school and afterschool times?

Sarah Lee:
Hi Mark, One thing you may want to consider is finding an appropriate assessment tool that would allow for the examination of safety of the schools’ facilities and equipment. I do not have a resource for this at my fingertips. This would seem like a first step for assessment.

Another resource that may be helpful is the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. This center includes information relating to playground safety. Their website is the following:

Question from Susan Ansell:
Rep. Faircloth, I’m hoping you can talk a bit about your legislation and the effect it has had on the sale of candy and soda in school vending machines in Maine. It seems that the Dept. of Education issued an administrative ban to prevent the sales--was this as a result of political pressure? Do you have any advice for other states that want to address the sale of unhealthy snack foods in school vending machines?

Rep. Sean Faircloth:

Yes. The decision to offer health choices in Maine school vending machines and to apply that rule 24/7 and apply it to high schools is a first-in-the-nation policy. It is to begin in September, though we are still urging the department to make sure that commitment is kept.

My advice. Apply pressure. Organize the public. Find a legislator to sponsor a bill. In the case of Maine we got much the same result as my bill via rule, but the rule would not have come without the bill. The method is not important. The result is. It took many decades to turn the corner on cigarettes. It will be a long road. Introduce a bill. It may pass. If not, do it again! And again. This is how politics works, but issue by issue our side is winning!

Question from Julia Lear, Director, Center for Health & Health Care in Schools, George Washington University:
To Rep Faircloth What is your sense of the most meaningful changes that can be made at the federal level that are also politically viable?

Rep. Sean Faircloth:
1. Require Freedom of Caloric information at all major chain restaurants. Since half the American food dollar is spent outside the home, this will be an important step substantively and in terms of perception. We know more about the lawnmower we buy than the food we put down our throats! Consumer freedom. Consumer information. Consumer choice is key.
2. Freedom of Transportation Choice! America does NOT follow free market principles. We subsidize the car to the detriminent of other forms of transportation. Use federal energy dollars in a way that gives some funding to walking and biking, particularly in-town (not just for hiking).
3. Apply free market principles to food policy! America subsidizes the high calorie processed foods and -- look at federal marketing dollars -- artifically uses our tax money to promote items unhealthy according to the federal food pyramid while underfunding promotion of fruits and vegetables. Again, this is a subsidy program for meat and diary that defies both science and free market principles. Support free markets, support health! Oppose subsidies at the public trough!

Question from Sheila Carmody, Senior Writer, NYS School Boards Association:
What do you suggest for schools that don’t have enough space for adequate physical education activities? Particularly in urban areas this is often an issue.

Sarah Lee:
Hi Sheila, I recognize that space can sometimes get in the way of creativity. One of the biggest goals should be to utilize space so that students are moving as much as possible during the physical education class period.

Here are a few thoughts, but this is not comprehensive...
-- Utilize floor lines and markings to maximize gymnasium or multi-purpose room use and for classroom management (this allows for awareness of the direction of movement and where to go next)
-- If ever creating a physical activity circuit, students can be in small groups and move to each station together. Oftentimes, circuits are set up so that 1-2 students are at one station at a time. With cramped space, it is okay to increase the number of students per station.
-- Certain activities might involve movement from one end of a room to another (team relays). With smaller spaces, it may require having students repeat the movement more than once.

Susan Ansell (Moderator):
That’s all we have time for today. I’m sorry we couldn’t get to more of your questions--we received over 200 of them! Thanks to the audience for participating and to our three chat guests for sharing their perspectives and insights. A transcript of this session will soon be available on the Education Week website.

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