Children spend a significant time of their childhood on educational campuses. Because of this, these institutions have a very good chance of inspiring positive development in children. Not only can a school help students learn about the world and develop their skills but also teach them about healthy lifestyles.
One primary aspect of a healthy lifestyle is one’s diet. Focusing on nutrition and physical health is a great way for educational institutions to help children be healthier and avoid obesity. Many essays from Study Driver explain, among other things, how important school health programs can be in fighting obesity in children. Physical activity is key to making this happen in educational institutions which is why school-based obesity prevention programs focus significantly on it.
Here are some ways in which institutions can help with the intervention and prevention of obesity in young children.
Further resource: 50+ Easy recipes for healthy after school snacks.
Physical Activity Interventions
Any system designed to reduce the risk of developing obesity has to rely heavily on physical activity. According to research, physical activity and diet interventions in an institution can help improve the cognition of obese or overweight children. Activities like more gym classes, providing more time for sports, group excursions outside the campus, etc. can all be good ways to ensure that students are not sitting in their classrooms all day. And this becomes especially important since such physical activity is shown to help improve the class performance of children suffering from obesity.
A combination of healthy eating and physical activity, therefore, is an effective way to control obesity in schools. And this is something that can be introduced easily across institutions.
The Diet of Children Should be Improved
In continuation to the previous point, children’s diet while they are studying is very important. Institutions should offer nutrition education as part of the health education classes students have. On top of that, they should be provided with healthy food options on campus. Different age groups should be offered the right kind of caloric intake based on the average body mass index. Here are some helpful steps that can be taken:
- Provide meals that follow relevant nutritional standards.
- Set calorie levels, both minimum and maximum, for each age group during lunch.
- Invest in healthy food display and service in the form of salad bars.
- Train kitchen staff in the preparation of healthy food.
When all of this is done in combination with a healthy dose of physical exertion in сhildhood obesity prevention programs in schools, then the issue can actually be controlled to a good extent.
Individual KIDPOWER Program
One of the most promising interventions that have been tested to help reduce obesity in children in a rural setting is named KIDPOWER. This is an individual nutrition therapy that showed good results in children between the ages of 2 and 20. It involved increasing fruit and vegetable servings each day and decreasing the number of times children would eat out each week. These changes were coupled with a decrease in TV time throughout the week as well as a lower intake of sugary drinks and soda.
Limit the Marketing of Unhealthy Foods
One of the best things that can be done is to reduce the marketing of foods that are unhealthy. The less junk food children see, the less they might be inclined to have it. This is especially important in spaces that entertain children all day, like a campus. Cafeterias should offer healthier options like fruits and vegetables instead of burgers and fries. Water should be made available to children instead of soda and other drinks with artificial sugar. If children are provided with healthy food during breaks, it will be easier for them to choose such healthy options even outside the campus.
Offer Healthy Food Outside of School Meals
A highly effective part of сhildhood obesity prevention programs in schools is to offer healthy competitive foods. Competitive food is that which is sold apart from the regular meals in an institution. This step was taken in Boston when it banned all sugary drink sales in public educational institutions. It was later found that students in Boston reduced the number of sugary drinks they consumed after this ban. These are some steps that can be taken to offer healthier competitive foods:
- Make sure they meet relevant nutrition standards.
- Remove sugary drinks from the campus or reduce access to them at the very least.
- Make sure that the food served or offered at various events like fundraisers and parties also follows nutritional standards.
When it comes to what kinds of intervention can be done by educational institutions to help fight obesity or help children suffering from the issue perform better, there are many steps to be taken. A multi-step approach is the best one to take as it focuses on multiple aspects and solutions. Combining physical exertion with better food options is the minimum that every institution should implement. However, there are other steps that can provide even better results, like the introduction of a nutritional therapy program like KIDPOWER. Some steps need to be taken on a city-wide scale, like banning the sale of sugary drinks on campus. However, an institution can take its own steps to limit access to such unhealthy food options by offering alternatives and ensuring there is plenty of access to water.
By taking the right steps, obesity in educational institutions can be controlled quite effectively and the performance of children can be improved.