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This week’s healthy schools highlights

VIDEO: PlayWorks offers tips on getting the most out of recess

Check out the video above.

Most doctors don’t tell parents kids are overweight

Less than one-quarter of American parents with an overweight child remember ever being told by a health care professional that this was the case, a new study says.

“Parents might be more motivated to follow healthy eating and activity advice if they knew their children were overweight, but very few parents of overweight children say they have ever heard that from their doctor,” lead author Dr. Eliana Perrin, an associate professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a pediatrician at North Carolina Children’s Hospital, said in a university news release. Read more in U.S. News & World Report.

What really works to prevent obesity in kids?

In the long drawn out battle to fight the childhood obesity epidemic, public health advocates, schools, parents — heck, even the first lady — have been trying a variety of strategies to see what, if anything, really works. An analysis of the latest research published yesterday by the Cochrane Colloboration may provide better guidance, identifying specific approaches that appear to work to prevent gaining excess body fat. Read more in the Boston Globe.

Parents, Poudre School District debate outdoor winter recess

As temperatures continue to fluctuate this season, Poudre School District parents are weighing the pros and cons of outdoor recess when winter weather creates chilly conditions.

Ann-Marie Hasstedt, mother of two Beattie Elementary School students, said she is a strong advocate for outdoor recess whenever possible, despite sometimes blustery conditions. Read more in the Coloradoan.

In overweight kids, heart risks can start as young as 3

When children are overweight, heart health risk factors such as dangerous cholesterol levels and artery inflammation can start as early as age 3, according to a University of Miami study published in this week’s medical journal Obesity. Read more in the Miami Herald.

Most U.S. schools don’t require P.E. class or recess

Too many kids weigh too much, but too few states and schools require recess or follow recommended guidelines for physical education.

One in three U.S. kids is overweight or obese, but only six states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa — adhere to standards from the National Association of Sports and Physical Education that schoolchildren participate in 150 minutes a week of physical education. And just three states — Delaware, Virginia and Nebraska — have 20 minutes of mandatory elementary-school recess a day. Read more in TIME.

At top public schools, the arts replace recess

In the art room at P.S. 188 in Bayside, Queens, a group of 9-year-olds was busily putting the finishing touches on an enormous poster for the fourth-grade play. Its topic: saving the Earth. Down the hall in the music room, beneath portraits of Mozart and Bach, classmates were breaking into a spirited rendition of “Hear Those Bells” on fluorescent-colored recorders. Cheerleaders in the gym were perfecting a victory chant, jumping, twisting and stamping their feet. And in the library, children in a Suzuki violin class were toiling away at “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” while their music teacher, a professional violist from Iceland, coached them “to stand straight and tall.” Read more in the New York Times.

Students grossed out by school water fountains

New California rules are meant to get school kids to drink fewer sugary drinks and more water. But many students don’t want to drink out of public water fountains. Listen to the NPR report.

Line grows long for free meals at U.S. schools

Millions of American schoolchildren are receiving free or low-cost meals for the first time as their parents, many once solidly middle class, have lost jobs or homes during the economic crisis, qualifying their families for the decades-old safety-net program. Read more in the New York Times.

Colorado Springs District 11 focuses on food allergies

In a national press release, AllerSchool, (www.allerschool.com), in partnership with Colorado Springs School District 11 Food & Nutrition Services formally announced the deployment of its AllerSchool Food Allergy Management System at all of its 65 K-12 schools, starting with the fall 2011 session.

The main objectives of the system are: To allow parents/guardians of students with life-threatening food allergies to place direct meal orders with the school cafeterias; to allow parents/guardians to interactively view menu choices given their unique set of dietary preferences, such as non life-threatening food allergies, religious preference, or ingredients they wish to avoid; to allow greater transparency of food ingredients in keeping with the District 11’s Good Food Initiative that provides healthy “made from scratch” meals to its students.

Using a special link on D11’s Food and Nutrition website, parents/guardians can view meal choices available for their students, after filtering through for ingredients that may be harmful to ingest considering their student’s unique combination of food allergies. By doing this, parents/guardians are not looking at a generic, one size fits all school menu, but one that is specifically customized to their student’s needs.

With the increase in the number of students with food allergies in schools and the passage of FAAMA (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act, January 2011), schools are now encouraged by federal mandate to have policies in place for the management of food allergies in schools. The Allerschool system, based on patent-pending technology,isdesignedtoprovideacomprehensiveapproachtothemanagementoffoodallergies. Currently, Colorado Springs School District 11 is the only district in the nation with this technology.

“School meals are an important part of the school day for students; it provides an important social and learning opportunity for them, and therefore it is important that safe food choices be available to all students, including those with food allergies and dietary restrictions,” says Jamie Humphrey, the district’s administrative dietitian.


About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.