Health Education and School Wellness
It’s essential to incorporate nutrition and physical activity into a school’s health education curriculum. Nutrition and physical activity themes can be also woven into other areas of the curriculum—in core classroom subjects, physical education, and after-school programming. School district wellness policies should also address nutrition and physical activity and encompass staff wellness, not just student wellness.
Here is a summary of health education and school wellness obesity prevention recommendations, based on a review of expert guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and others. For more detailed guidance on these recommendations and ideas for putting them into practice, explore the source list and the links to other resources.
|Address nutrition and physical activity in health education programs (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)|
|Align health education with national standards (1,4)|
|Incorporate healthy eating and physical activity themes into other subject areas (1)|
|Offer teachers ongoing health education training (1,2,5)|
|Assess student learning in health education classes and report on school report cards (1)|
|Implement, fund, and monitor a comprehensive school wellness policy that addresses nutrition, physical activity, and school food, among other topics (1,2,3,4)|
|Provide wellness programming for school staff (1,3,5)|
1. Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Healthy Schools Program Framework. 2009. Accessed July 11, 2011.
2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. 2010. Accessed July 11, 2011.
3. Wechsler H, McKenna ML, Lee SM, Dietz WH. The Role of Schools in Preventing Childhood Obesity.The State Education Standard. 2004.
4. White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a Generation: White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President. 2010. Accessed July 11, 2011.
5. American Heart Association. School Nutrition Policy Recommendations. 2008. Accessed July 11, 2011.
6. Lagarde F, LeBlanc CMA, McKenna M, et al. School policy framework : implementation of the WHO global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2008.
7. Pekruhn C. Preventing Childhood Obesity: A School Health Policy Guide. Arlington, VA: Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, National Association of State Boards of Education; 2009.
8. Institute of Medicine. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, D.C.: Institute of Medicine; 2005.
The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.