Child nutrition reauthorization:
Rethinking school food service

Last month, President Obama signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Commonly referred to as the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, it provides funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, including $4.5 billion in new funding over 10 years.

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Number of overweight students remains high

The percentage of South Dakota students who are overweight or obese remained high in the state’s latest school height and weight survey. For the 2009-10 school year, 32.7 percent of students were either overweight (16.7 percent) or obese (16 percent). That compares to 33.6 percent of students who were overweight or obese in the 2008-09 school year.

“While it’s somewhat encouraging the percentage did not increase, the fact that the number is essentially unchanged from last year means that there is a lot of work to do if we’re going to reduce child obesity and its health risks for our children,” said Kristin Biskeborn, state nutritionist for the Department of Health. “We know that kids who are overweight or obese are at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, liver disorders and other complications.”

The annual South Dakota School Height Weight Report is a cooperative effort of the Departments of Health and Education to track child overweight and obesity. Schools have submitted student height and weight data for the survey each year since 1999. The survey defines obese as above the 95th percentile body mass index-for-age when compared to kids of the same age and gender; overweight is between the 85th and 94th percentiles.

A total of 205 schools participated in the 2009-10 survey, accounting for 29.6 percent of students in the state. Participating schools receive reports of their own data to use in improving nutrition and physical activity in the school setting.

Biskeborn said there are six science-based strategies shown to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases:
• Increase physical activity
• Decrease television viewing
• Increase fruit and vegetable intake
• Decrease sweetened beverage intake
• Decrease portion sizes
• Increase breastfeeding

Click here to view the full report.