NEW YORK CITY -- The vast majority of parents want schools to limit students' access to high-calorie chips, sodas and candy, and to offer them opportunities for physical activity throughout the day, according to survey results released by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Six hundred parents of children in grades K-12 were surveyed by KRC Research for the alliance's study, and nearly eight in 10 said they are ready to get more involved to create a healthier environment in their local schools.
Among the key findings is that parents almost unanimously agree (98%) that their child's school should offer opportunities for physical activity throughout the day, whether through P.E., activity breaks or recess and afterschool programs.
Almost as many (96%) agree that their child's school should limit access to “unhealthy” snacks and sugar-sweetened beverages. About two-thirds of parents (63%) believe schools play a major role in instilling healthy habits in students.
Four-fifths of parents have undertaken one or more health-related activity or advocacy effort in their local schools. Those include bringing nutritious foods to school parties or other events and pushing for healthier lunch menus or expanded health education for students.
Through its Healthy Schools Program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the alliance offers support to schools that want to become “healthier places for students to learn and staff to work.” It encourages parents to get involved and recommends three steps to those who want to get started: Ask how the school is working to become healthier; examine the items sold in the cafeteria and vending machines; and ask if students get daily activity or P.E. and how long it lasts.
The American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation joined forces in May 2005 to create a healthier generation by addressing childhood obesity. The goal of the alliance is to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices.