U.S. Schools Show Progress in Healthy Behaviors, CDC Says

Report highlights good news: better nutrition, more physical activity and tobacco bans

HealthDay + More

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Schools across America are showing progress in key areas related to health, including nutrition, physical education and smoking, federal health officials reported Monday.

The results of a 2012 comprehensive survey of school health policies showed some encouraging trends, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in an agency news release. "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," he said.

The report focused on those three areas. The highlights were:

Nutrition:

  • Between 2006 and 2012, school districts allowing soft drink companies to advertise on school grounds dropped from about 47 percent to 33.5 percent.
  • During the same time period, districts requiring schools to ban junk food in vending machines rose from nearly 30 percent to just over 43 percent.
  • Over the six years between 2006 and 2012, districts with food contracts addressing nutritional standards for foods purchased apart from school breakfasts or lunches rose from 55 percent to 73.5 percent.
  • Between 2000 and 2012, districts making nutritional and caloric data of school meals available to families rose from slightly over 35 percent to nearly 53 percent.

Physical education:

  • From 2000 to 2012, districts requiring elementary schools to teach physical education rose from about 83 percent to around 94 percent.
  • In 2012, a majority of school districts (nearly 62 percent) had agreements for shared use of school or community property; more than half having agreements with groups such as the YMCA, Boys or Girls Clubs, or the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, or local parks or recreation departments.

Tobacco:

  • Districts prohibiting all tobacco use during school-related activities rose from just under 47 percent in 2000 to 67.5 percent in 2012.

The 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study is a national survey to assess health policies in schools, districts and classrooms.

According to the CDC, the survey assesses eight components of school health: health education; physical education and activity; health services; mental health and social services; nutrition services; healthy and safe school environment; faculty and staff health promotion; and family and community involvement.

More information

For more about school health, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.