- Progress and improvement using the school wellness policy guidelines should be required in all Kansas public K-12 schools.
The school wellness policy model guidelines were established by KSDE and were used by local wellness committees in all of the state’s school districts to comply by July 2006 with federal requirements. The model guidelines were developed for nutrition, nutrition education and physical activity, and each includes specific goals, from “basic” (minimum requirements) to “advanced” and “exemplary” levels.
Currently, schools are only required to review their wellness guidelines annually. Schools and school districts should be required to demonstrate improvement using the school wellness policy model guidelines, and state resources should be committed to ensure that progress is tracked at the state level.
- As recommended by the Institute of Medicine, all food and beverages sold or served to students in school should be healthful and meet an accepted nutritional content standard.
Vending machine items and other foods available to students in public school should be reviewed for nutritional content. Wherever appropriate, an explicit effort consistent with the school wellness policy guidelines should be made to increase healthy food and beverage options.
- This study suggests that an in-depth review be conducted of how the school lunch program is financed at the local level.
The results of this study indicate that in some Kansas public K-12 schools, the school lunch program is in direct competition for student purchase with vended products and/ or a la carte offerings. This puts the nutritionally balanced school lunch at odds with foods that don’t contain the recommended amounts of protein, vitamins and other essential nutrients for children. Food and beverage items that are sold primarily to support student activities need to be reviewed in terms of their financial impact on schools and, specifically, the lunch program.
- State policymakers should institute more comprehensive physical education requirements in Kansas public middle and high schools.
Currently, there is an emphasis on physical activity in Kansas public schools from kindergarten through grade 5. To encourage a lifelong pursuit of physical activity and health, this emphasis should be extended through grade 12.
- Kansas lacks basic information on the level of overweight and obesity among children. A place to begin to address this problem is to collect height and weight data to calculate the body mass index (BMI) of public-school students.
Prevention and intervention efforts to improve student health by reducing the risks associated with overweight and obesity depend on knowing the prevalence of these conditions in the population. Currently, there is no reliable, routinely available source of information concerning the levels of overweight among school-age children. To know if interventions we introduce are improving the health of children, we need to be able to monitor BMI as an indicator over time. A logical place to collect that information and to share it with respect for privacy is through the public school system.