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U.S. Middle and High Schools Making Progress to
Provide Healthier Lunches, Falling Short on Physical Activity
A new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Bridging the Gap program finds that U.S. public secondary schools are making an effort to offer students healthier options in the cafeteria. Through the National School Lunch Program, most schools provide fruits and vegetables, more are offering whole grains and fewer are serving french fries. However, pizza, high-fat milk, junk food and sugary drinks are still widely available through the federal program.
The report, School Policies and Practices to Improve Health and Prevent Obesity: National Secondary School Survey Results, also shows that schools have made little progress in helping students be active during and after the school day. Further, many schools have not implemented district wellness policy provisions required by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004.
Policy opportunities and key findings about nutrition, physical activity and wellness policies included in the report offer timely insights for the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The report also highlights disparities in health-related policies and practices attributed to the socioeconomic, racial and ethnic make-up of the student body.
Findings are based on surveys of school administrators during the 2006–07 and 2007–08 school years. The accompanying full monograph will be available this summer.