Health Care Reform and School Wellness

June 16, 2009

By Rochelle Davis, Founding Executive Director

As the country gears up for a debate on health care reform, it is clear that the policymakers are going to connect the dots between the nation’s efforts to control health care costs and obesity prevention programs – including those that focus on school wellness.  

An article for POLITICO, Carrier Budoff Brown reports that, “Any health care reform plan that Obama signs is almost certain to call for nutrition counseling, obesity screenings and wellness programs at workplaces and community centers. He wants more time in the school day for physical fitness, more nutritious school lunches and more bike paths, walking paths and grocery stores in underserved areas.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases including diabetes account for 75 percent of the nation’s $2 trillion medical costs.  So any plan to get health care spending under control must include a strong prevention component .  

Schools are an important venue for providing healthy food and opportunities for physical activity, as well as for teaching healthy lifestyles.  With education funding under so much pressure, it will be interesting to see if health care reform will provide any relief to schools that have efforts underway to offer healthier food and more opportunities for physical activity – efforts that ultimately contribute to a healthier student body and a healthier population.