Is Childhood Obesity on a Decline? And Can School Lunch Programs Help?

Despite the trend of disappearing recess periods and poor school lunch options (you know exactly what I mean if you saw those early episodes of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution), a new study from Temple University, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that a “school-based program” had a positive effect on overweight middle schoolers. Not surprisingly, the program included healthier food choices, phys ed classes, and education about healthy behavior. But there actually was an unexpected finding in the three-year study: that the childhood obesity rate may be on a decline, no matter what.

Designed to determine whether or not such a school-based approach could cut kids’ risk factors for type II diabetes, the research followed students in intervention schools (which implemented the healthier programs) and control schools (in which nothing changed). Both groups lost weight. In fact, there was a 4 percent reduction of students who were considered overweight or obese in both groups. So I'm wondering, does this mean that childhood obesity, as a whole is on a decline?

It's definitely surprising that kids lost weight even in the schools that didn’t, say, get soda taken out of vending machines or get an extra hour of gym class. But I think it's important to note that the school programs did lower obesity risk factors by 21 percent. So even if obesity rates go down no matter what, helping it along with education and healthy eating programs is still important to me as a mom.

As I think ahead to sending my son to school, I hope to find one that values recess as much as reading and feel that any effort to get kids moving more, eating better, and learning about how to make healthy lifestyle choices is good news, as is any reduction in the levels of childhood obesity. If this study is any indication, there’s hope for our chubby children yet.

Are you happy with the way your child's school teaches healthy lifestyle choices? Chime in below!

Like This? Read These:
- What Nutrition Messages Are Your Kids Getting?
- Kids Of Working Moms Are More Likely to be Overweight
- Best of iVillage: Kid-Friendly Snacks

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