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U.S. Schools Getting Better at Boosting Kids' Health
Date:10/19/2007

rgest and most comprehensive of its kind. And it covers many issues pertaining to overweight and obesity, which, Appel said, are "becoming the number one problem among school children. I think the health effects of children being overweight will be as great -- or greater -- than the impact of cigarette smoking."

Among the report's findings:

  • The number of states prohibiting junk foods in vending machines in schools rose from 8 percent in 2000 to 32 percent in 2006; the percentage of school districts with such prohibitions rose from 4 percent to 30 percent during the same time frame.
  • 46 percent of schools sold water in vending machines or school stores in 2006, up from 30 percent in 2000.
  • 12 percent of states required elementary schools to provide regularly scheduled recesses in 2006, up from 4 percent in 2000; the percentage of school districts with this requirement rose from 46 percent to 57 percent.
  • Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of schools prohibited tobacco use in all school locations, including off-campus, and school-sponsored events in 2006, compared to 46 percent in 2000.
  • 25 percent of schools had vending machines with cookies, cakes and other high-fat baked goods in 2006, versus 38 percent in 2000.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of schools offered salads a la carte in 2006, compared with 53 percent in 2000.
  • 19 percent of schools offered French fries a la carte in 2006, down from 40 percent in 2000.

That's the good news. The 2006 review also turned up some less-heartening news:

  • Only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools and 2 percent of high schools provided daily physical education for the entire year for students in all grades.
  • 22 percent of schools did not require students to take any physical education.
  • 36 percent of schools did not prohibit tobacco use in all locat
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