Contact: Nicole Shaffer (202) 724-7739
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education is hosting a policy forum this Thursday, January 8, 2008, 5:30-7:30 pm at the Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives 1201 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. The nearest Metro is Farragut North located on the Red Line.
Research indicates that proper nutrition and increased physical activity lead to higher academic achievement. Student participation in school breakfast programs, for example, improves academic, behavioral, and emotional functioning and leads to increased math and reading scores. Unfortunately, a lack of physical activity and poor eating habits have led to an obesity epidemic, and childhood obesity has become one of the most serious health problems we are facing as a nation. Recent studies have shown that rates of childhood obesity have increased to three times what they were almost 30 years ago and that obese children and teenagers are developing Type 2 diabetes in record numbers. While childhood obesity is a growing problem throughout the country, it is especially problematic within our local community. According to a 2003-2004 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), 22.8 percent of 10-17 year-olds in the District of Columbia are considered obese, the highest rate in the country.
According to Mary Story, Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program, “Schools can play an important part in a national effort to prevent childhood obesity. More than 95 percent of American youth ages 5 to 17 are enrolled in school, and no other institution has as much continuous and intensive contact with children during their first two decades of life.” A 2008 report released by Trust for America’s Health suggests that schools should offer healthy food options, increase the amount of daily physical activity required, and limit and/or improve the nutritional value of “competitive” foods.
The District of Columbia has committed collaborative, multiagency attention to address and reduce the rates of childhood obesity among our students and our residents, thereby increasing their chances for academic and personal success. In February of 2008, Mayor Fenty released the District’s first-ever Child Health Action Plan, which includes an initiative to reverse the trend in local childhood obesity rates by 2010 by improving the nutritional options available to children and families. The plan also utilizes new physical education standards to increase the physical activity of children in schools. Additionally, the OSSE released a state-level education strategic plan in September of 2008. The plan contains an objective to improve student health and wellness, including an objective to reduce the percentage of students classified as overweight or obese by the year 2011.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education is hosting an evening discussion to allow practitioners, researchers, and stakeholders to explore strategies for effectively reducing obesity rates in the District of Columbia.
Laura Segal, Director, Public Affairs, Trust for America’s Health
Ginny Ehrlich, Executive Director, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Sandra Schlicker, PhD, Director, Nutrition and Wellness Services, Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Representative, District of Columbia Department of Health
The discussion will be moderated by Donna Power Stowe, Executive Director, DC Education Compact (DCEC).