Schools should become a major focal point for preventing the spread of obesity in the United States, suggests a new report issued last week by the Institute of Medicine.
With one-third of children now considered overweight or obese, the institute predicts that the health care costs associated with obesity could become “catastrophic” in future years.
Since children and teens spend an abundance of their waking hours in school or on school grounds, the report suggests that this “puts schools in a unique position to support students in getting optimum physical activity, eating healthily, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.”
The institute suggests that all students should have opportunities to get 60 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis while at school, which aligns with the physical activity recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Outside of traditional physical education classes, the report suggests giving students in-class physical activity breaks, ensuring recesses remain high-activity, and creating safe pathways for students to walk to school.
A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2012 edition of Education Week as Schools Called Key Tool In U.S. Obesity Fight