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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 47

Should schools be responsible for childhood obesity prevention?

Editor, Saudi Journal of Obesity

Date of Web Publication12-Mar-2014

Correspondence Address:
Mostafa Abolfotouh
Editor, Saudi Journal of Obesity

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2347-2618.128622

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How to cite this article:
Abolfotouh M. Should schools be responsible for childhood obesity prevention?. Saudi J Obesity 2013;1:47

How to cite this URL:
Abolfotouh M. Should schools be responsible for childhood obesity prevention?. Saudi J Obesity [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Mar 26];1:47. Available from:

Obesity and its associated health problems have a significant economic impact on any country's economy. It has been a major factor in the rising cost of medical care. Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases. Obese boys and girls had poor cardiovascular profiles with lower HDL-cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher blood pressure and higher heart rate recovery - indicating a lower level of fitness - compared to normal weight kids. [1]

Although the dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, schools play a particularly critical role. Within an environment where healthy choices are easy to make, schools can help teach young people to take responsibility for their own lifelong health. [2]

Physical activity and movement are critical components to obesity prevention. Yet, the large majority of our children do not achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day. In every community, there is an important setting in which we can take steps to upend this norm - our nation's schools. Children spend an average of eight hours per day in school, making schools optimal sites for boosting movement and exercise. Our schools are focused primarily on academic preparation, and rightly so. Many already feel overburdened with responsibilities that extend beyond that core mission. [3]

One way to address childhood obesity is to create outlets for children to engage in physical activity. Schools are well equipped to provide an active environment. Schools can and should play a major role in efforts to make children and adolescents more active. We know that kids are designed to move. We know from academic studies and from spending time in classrooms that active students do better. Beyond improved health and fitness, physical activity enhances concentration and attention; it improves attendance and academic performance. Focused, engaged students lead to thriving schools and bright futures. Schools must initiate campaigns to address student health, and add extracurricular programs aimed at encouraging entire families to be more active and make smarter food choices. One more thing is to stress upon avoidance of more TV watching at home for more than two hours a day.

The American Medical Association has proposed taxes on sugary sodas to help schools pay for such educational programs. Sugar soda and syrups in vending machines in schools must be replaced with milk. Milk consumption seemed to protect girls from obesity in previous studies, but made no difference for boys. A possible explanation would be a reduction in sugary drinks, which girls replaced with milk. School authorities must struggle to keep junk food out of classrooms. One-fifth of the average increase in adolescent weight can be attributed to availability of junk food in schools. [4] Nutrition education and physical education should be closely aligned to reinforce the importance of the calories-in/calories-out energy balance equation that is critical to maintaining healthy weight. [5]

  References Top

1.Institute of medicine committee on prevention of obesity in children and youth, preventing childhood obesity: Health in the balance. In: Koplan JP, Liverman CT, Krak VA, editors. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.National School Board Association (NSBA).Preventing childhood obesity.Available from:[Last accessed on 2013 Nov].  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Abolfotouh M. Essentials of School Health and Educational Medicine, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing. ISBN 978--8473-2805-6.Available from: [Last accessed on 2011 Dec 27].  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Anderson PM, Butcher KF. Reading, writing, and raisinets: Are school finances contributing to children′s obesity? Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of EconomicResearch Working Paper Series; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Larson NI, Story M, Perry CL, Neumark-Sztainer D, Hannan PJ. Are diet and physical activity patterns related to cigarette smoking in adolescents? Findings from Project EAT. PrevChronic Dis 2007;3:A51.  Back to cited text no. 5


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