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Do Schools Make the Grade When It Comes to Health?

Catherine is a senior communications professional helping social change organizations tell their story in powerful ways. She has expertise in public health, environmental stewardship, philanthropy and education. Follow her on Twitter @CatBrozena
catherine@colorthisworld.com

New public health opinion poll shows schools falling short in providing daily physical education, mixed results in healthy food offerings.

The report cards are in and parents have some insightful opinions about how well public schools are performing when it comes to the health of children. When asked about  how well their child’s school is performing in providing adequate opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating, many parents are giving their child’s school a low grade indicating room for improvement.

A recent poll of 1,368 parents of public school children in grades K-12 showed that one in four parents believes their child’s school gives too little emphasis on physical education during the school day. And despite CDC guidelines suggesting that school children receive daily physical education classes, nearly seven in 10 parents reported that their child’s school does not provide this.

Additionally, when it comes to school lunches, many parents had mixed opinions about the quality of food offered. Roughly 72 percent of parents said the quality of school lunches was very or somewhat healthy, yet when pressed on the offerings of food in school lunches, 20 percent of parents said that the schools serve a variety of unhealthy offerings. The poll also raised many questions about the amount of time given to students to eat their lunches, with many parents (14 percent) indicating that their child gets 15 minutes or less to eat lunch.

The poll was conducted as part of a series of surveys led by researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NPR. Other findings highlighted by the research indicate parent concerns about child safety at school and the ability of schools to prepare students to enter the workforce.

Read the full report.

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