Fayette County Public Schools District Wide Wellness Policy Recommendations (Lexington-Fayette, KY residents only)
- Fayette County Public Schools Administrators and Board of Education
- United States of America
Extensive research shows that nutrition and exercise practices have significant impact on students’ ability to behave well, focus in school, and learn. Adults know this to be true. Try eating a bunch of candy and sitting in a meeting all day and then see how ready you are to learn and be productive.
But it’s not just academic. These practices also have implications for the quality and length of our children’s lives. One in three Kentucky children is overweight or obese and we rank number one for overweight and obese high school students. This puts them at high risk for chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Our schools should be helping to turn the tide of this epidemic, not contributing to it.
Why Food Rewards are not a good idea
•They override hunger / fullness signals and encourages eating beyond caloric need
•The desire for unhealthy food increases when food is used as a reward
•Foods given as rewards linked to disease
•When rewarded with food, we begin to associate food with positive reinforcement and it builds an unhealthy dependence of food for comfort
•Internal motivation decreases when rewards are used, food becomes the focus, not the activity
Why recess matters
Students with behavior and learning challenges are often the students who have recess taken away. These are the students who would likely benefit most from an active break. John Ratey of Harvard University calls physical activity Miracle Grow for the Brain and compares it to taking a little Adderall and a little Prozac. Physical activity:
•Improves cognition via blood flow to the brain
Why it is important to have at least 50% healthy food at school celebrations
•Children learn what they live. We send mixed messages when we tell children they should eat healthy food and then provide tables laden with junk food.
•Studies show that when fruit was added to a traditional school party menu of cake, punch, candy and chips, students decreased calorie intake by 50-196 calories.
Does school wellness policy make a difference?
•For every negative food practice allowed in school, a child’s BMI increases an average of 10%.~ Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine
•In Chula Vista, California 3 years after strengthening their wellness policy 3.2 % or 800 fewer students were overweight.
A survey done recently by Foundation for a Healthy KY found that 97% of Kentuckians thought kids should have more physical activity in schools and 85% said that healthy food should be a priority.
There is no more analysis needed, there is no groundwork to be laid. It is time to stop talking about school wellness. It is time to put it into action.
1) End the use of food as a reward. No candy for good behavior or academic performance.
2) Require daily recess for all elementary students. It can’t be taken away for punishment or remedial work. Schools develop active indoor recess strategies for inclement weather.
3) At least 50% of the food served at school events meets Smart Snack guidelines.
See www.tweenslex.org/school-wellness/ for more information about these policies.