Parents should adopt schools' healthy habits
The state has adopted guidelines to promote health among public school students.
Children spend a good part of their weekdays on campuses so it makes sense that the food they get in public schools are nutritious and contain as few empty calories as possible.
The state's effort to fill vending machines with nonsugary drinks and low-fat snacks, ban candies and fat-laden products sold for fundraising and cut trans fats from cafeteria meals while boosting physical activity will help children's health.
However, parents should be the primary source for their children's instruction on health. If kids go home to refrigerators full of soda and cupboards stuffed with Twinkies and potato chips, then park themselves on the sofa to play video games and watch television, all the government programs in the world won't keep them fit.
The state departments of education and health have established "wellness guidelines" as required by the federal government for schools participating in the National Lunch Program. The mandate is an effort to reduce obesity, a growing problem among young Americans. By 2011, all aspects of the state program should be put into practice.
The guidelines recommend increased physical activity for 45 minutes a week for kindergarten through grade 3, 55 minutes for grades 4 and 5, and 200 minutes for older students. Though schools do not have to comply, the department should consider making exercise compulsory since physical activity not only keeps bodies healthy, but boosts brain power and concentration as well.
The school's health programs no doubt benefit students, but, like education, it is incumbent on parents to take responsibility for their children's well-being.
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