Posts tagged schools
Latino kids often have limited access to safe gyms, fields, and playgrounds, but shared use agreements and street-level improvements can improve access to these “active spaces” in underserved communities and may help young Latinos become more physically active and maintain a healthy weight, according to a new package of research materials from Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.
The new Salud America! “Active Spaces for Latino Kids” has a research review of the latest science, an original animated video, and an infographic.
A study shows that 81 percent of Latino neighborhoods did not have a recreational facility, compared with 38 percent of White neighborhoods.
Fewer schools provided public access to their physical activity facilities in 2006 (29%) than did in 2000 (35%).
Shared use agreements—formal contracts between entities that outline terms for sharing public spaces for physical activity—have increased access to active spaces in Latino communities.
“Shared use agreements can help open school spaces to the public by protecting against liability and promoting shared costs and staffing,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America!, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Salud America! is a national network of stakeholders seeking environmental and policy solutions to Latino obesity.
Other ways to increase use of active spaces include:
“Complete streets”—repairing sidewalks and installing street lights, trails, and bike lanes—also can help Latino families walk and bike more safely to active spaces
Studies show that more people walk or bike to active sites when those sites are closer to home and safer to travel to. Evaluating the characteristics of active spaces can ensure those spaces (and new ones) meet Latinos’ cultural needs.
“Open streets” close off all vehicular traffic and create safe, inviting active spaces for residents.
A program in a Latino-majority urban area of Chicago used an open streets model that closed streets to vehicles and allowed 10,000-plus residents to walk, run, and bike.
The new research package is the third of six new research material packages by Salud America!, each of which focused on a specific topic on Latino childhood obesity:
• healthier school snacks;
• better food in the neighborhood;
• active spaces;
• active play (coming July 2013);
• healthier marketing (coming August 2013), and
• sugary drinks (coming August 2013)
Parents are concerned about food marketing and the way it impacts their children’s eating habits and would support policies to limit the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, according to a new report from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.
Black and Hispanic parents reported believing that their children saw more food advertising and were more affected by that advertising compared with white parents, the report found. They also perceived more obstacles to ensuring healthy eating habits for their children, and were more supportive of most policies to promote healthy eating habits and limit food marketing.
Black and Hispanic parents, however, did not view the influence of food companies on their children’s eating habits more negatively, the report found.
In fact, because many food companies, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, invest significant amounts in targeted marketing to black and Hispanic youth and programs to support black and Hispanic communities, it appears that these programs may be successfully deflecting blame for obesity away from the food companies, according to the report.
“The food industry has responded to parents’ concerns about food marketing with self-regulatory pledges that have produced only small changes,” said Jennifer Harris, lead author and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center. “Parents are becoming more aware of food marketing and they want to start seeing real improvements.”
The study is the first of its kind to assess parents’ attitudes about policies to promote healthy eating, such as nutrition standards for foods sold in schools, as well as policies limiting marketing to children. Researchers conducted an online survey of more than 2,000 parents of children and teens ages 2-17 in 2009, 2010, and 2011. They surveyed parents who participate in decisions about food and beverage choices in their households.
They found that parents overall are just as concerned about advertisements promoting unhealthy foods to children as they are about alcohol and tobacco use in the media.
Parental approval was highest for policies that would set nutrition standards for foods sold in schools (supported by 72-81% of parents) and policies that would promote healthy eating in children’s media (70-73%).
View the full report here.
With the second-highest national rate of obesity in the world (after the U.S.) and the fourth highest rate of childhood obesity, Mexico has started an initiative to help educate children about healthy eating habits and the dangers associated with sugary beverages and fatty foods, Voxxi reports.
Mexican officials recently started a “Week of Taste” program in 124 schools to show children natural and simple flavors while creating a desire to eat healthy.
Last year, they started a campaign to focus on getting young people to drink more water, eat more vegetables and fruit, and to exercise more.
Only one in four U.S. public elementary schools offered students physical activity breaks apart from physical education class and recess during the 2009–11 school years, according to a new report.
The report, Activity Breaks: A Promising Strategy for Keeping Children Physically Active at School by the Bridging the Gap program, examined the percentage of schools that provide physical activity breaks, including breaks for stretching, yoga, and other movement during and between classroom activities, outside of P.E. class and recess. It also considered the type and total duration of breaks and explored whether the use of activity breaks varies by school characteristics or by provision of other opportunities for activity.
Although most schools do not offer activity breaks, evidence suggests that students and teachers may benefit from such breaks.
Students in schools that offered physical activity breaks received an average of almost 40 minutes per week in such breaks. Previous studies have shown that offering students activity breaks during classes increases their levels of physical activity. Studies also confirm that allocating school time for physical activity does not adversely affect students’ academic performance. Further, scheduling brief activity breaks could be a promising strategy for promoting physical activity during the school day without creating additional challenges for teachers, administrators and students.
Forty years ago, nearly half of all students walked or biked to school. Now, only 14 percent do.
Why the change?
One major factor is school siting, the decisions school leaders make about where to build or rehabilitate schools. Over the past several decades, schools have increasingly been built on the outskirts of communities, too far from children’s homes for walking or biking to be practical. Meanwhile, obesity rates in children and adolescents have more than tripled, and a third of children are overweight or obese.
Locating schools closer to where families live can make it easier for kids to walk and bike to school—and more convenient for families to use school fields and other facilities after hours, when school is closed. When it comes to ethnicity and socioeconomic status, however, few neighborhoods are well integrated, which means students in neighborhood-based schools can be highly segregated, too.
But there are lots of ways to support both walkable and diverse schools. To help districts nationwide make school siting decisions that support their students’ health and educational success, Changelab Solutions has released a set of model school siting policies and other materials.
Nearly a third of U.S. kids and adolescents are overweight or obese, especially minority groups, including Latinos.
Many are urged to get more exercise but can’t follow this advice very easily where they live. Schools, for instance, have many recreational facilities—gyms, soccer fields, tracks, basketball courts, playgrounds, even swimming pools—but they keep them closed after hours due to security, liability and maintenance concerns.
But communities around the country are resolving these issues through what’s known as a joint use agreement: a written contract between a school district and, usually, a city agency, spelling out a formal arrangement that lets the two share the costs and maintenance and liability responsibilities.
Playing Smart is a new nuts-and-bolts guide to opening school property to the public through joint use agreements.
Complete with model agreement language and success stories from communities around the country, Playing Smart provides a comprehensive overview of the most common ways to finance these arrangements, and guidance on how to overcome obstacles that may arise in negotiating and enforcing a joint use agreement.
Playing Smart was produced through a partnership between KaBOOM! and the National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Children Obesity, a project of Public Health Law & Policy.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has recognized 179 schools from across the country that have transformed their campuses through healthy eating and physical activity policies and programs.
This year’s successes far exceed the totals of previous years and include Memorial High School in West New York, N.J., the first and only school to earn a Gold National Recognition Award.
The cities of Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Boston; Lincoln, Neb.; Los Angeles; Miami; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and San Antonio each boast multiple bronze- or silver-level schools. In the San Antonio area, recognized schools included Carroll Bell Elementary School in Harlandale and Karnes City High School, Karnes City Junior High School and Roger E. Sides Elementary School, each in Karnes City.
Read a list of all the schools here.
The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, which is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to help reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015. Any U.S. school can enroll and receive free assistance and support to become a healthier place for students to learn and staff to work.
The Southern U.S. has become the “first region in the country where more than half of public school students are poor and more than half are members of minorities,” according to research by the Southern Education Foundation cited in a news report in the Clarion Ledger (Miss.).
Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas have a majority of both poor and minority pupils in their states’ public school systems.
The report predicts that the rest of the nation will follow suit by 2020 as minority students exceed 50 percent of national public school enrollment.
According to the Ledger, a New York Times analysis of the report sums it up as “an influx of Latinos and other ethnic groups, the return of blacks to the South, and higher birth rates among black and Latino families have contributed to the change.”