U.S. schools: Healthier food, less junk food, more exercise

Aug. 26, 2013 at 11:14 PM
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ATLANTA, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- More U.S. students have access to healthier food, better physical fitness programs and more schools are smoke free, federal health officials say.

Dr. Tom Frieden said the report used data from the 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study -- the largest and most comprehensive survey to assess school health policies.

"Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth," Frieden said in a statement. "Good news for students and parents -- more students have access to healthy food, better physical fitness activities through initiatives such as 'Let's Move,' and campuses that are completely tobacco free."'

The study found from 2006-12:

-- The percentage of soft drink companies allowed to advertise soft drinks on school grounds dropped from 46.6 percent to 33.5 percent.

-- The percentage of districts that required schools to prohibit offering junk food in vending machines increased from 29.8 percent to 43.4 percent.

-- Food procurement contracts that addressed nutritional standards for foods that could be purchased separately from the school breakfast or lunch increased from 55.1 percent to 73.5 percent.

From 2000-12, the percentage of districts that made information available to families on the nutrition and caloric content of foods available to students increased from 35.3 percent to 52.7 percent.

In 2000, 82.6 percent of school districts required elementary schools to teach physical education, but that rose to 93.6 percent in 2012.

More than half of school districts -- 61.6 percent -- had a formal agreement between the school district and another public or private entity such as the YMCA or the Boys or Girls Clubs for shared use of school or community property.

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