CDC Report Highlights Good News for Health and Wellness in Schools

December 05, 2013

A CDC report with good news.

By Lauren Schneider, HSC Intern

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the results of their 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study, and there is good news for student health.  This study, conducted every five years, is a comprehensive examination of health and wellness practices in the school in all fifty states. Last year’s results show impressive trends in both nutrition and physical activity.

Good nutrition policies and practices are making headway in schools across the country. The percentage of school districts that allowed soft drink companies to advertise their products on school grounds decreased from 47 percent in 2006 to 34 percent in 2012. And other unhealthy food is also getting the boot. From 2006 to 2012, the percentage of schools that prohibited junk food being sold in school vending machines increased by 13 percent. Furthermore, schools are providing nutritional information to families about their school lunch nutrition; from 2000 to 2012, we saw an 18 percent increase in schools getting that information out to parents.

As for physical education, it’s now required in 94 percent of schools nationwide, up from 83 percent in 2000. Helping matters is the fact that more than 50 percent of schools have set up a formal agreement between the school district and a public or private entity to use community property if school property is not available or conducive to physical activities. Those organizations include the YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and local parks and recreation departments.

Lastly, “green cleaning,” the practice of using environmentally and healthy-friendly cleaning products, is becoming a more common practice in the schools. This was the first CDC study that acknowledged green cleaning as key to promoting health. This study notes that in 2010, less than half of school districts either funded or provided professional training in green cleaning, while in 2012, 63 percent of school districts reported funding or offering this practice.

This is all great news. These trends imply that an increasing number of schools are trying to move toward a healthier future. At Healthy Schools Campaign, we envision a world where our children grow up learning the importance of preparing a healthy family dinner, going for a run or taking a hike through the woods to get some fresh air. Our childrens’ futures are looking healthier every day, and it’s important to note that our nation’s schools are helping to pave the way.