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Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance
high school. Schools should implement as part of the health curriculum anevidence-based program that includes a behavioral skills focus on promoting physical activity, healthful food choices, and energy balance and decreasing sedentary behaviors.
Given the limited resources in many schools and their varied priorities regarding the nature and duration of nutrition, health, and physical education classes and curricula, it is critically important for innovative approaches to be developed and evaluated to address obesity prevention in the schools. These approaches should involve evidence-based curricula that teach effective decision-making skills in the areas of diet and physical activity. Teacher training in health education and behavioral-change teaching methods is needed. The departments of education and health at the state and federallevels, with input from relevant professional organizations, should developand evaluate pilot programs to explore innovative approaches to both staffing and teaching about wellness, healthful choices, nutrition, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors. Furthermore, it is hoped that health educators, school psychologists, and professional organizations (e.g., American Federation of School Teachers, American Psychological Association) will be brought into the discussions on how best to develop innovative curricula in this area.
ADVERTISING IN SCHOOLS
There have been growing concerns in recent years about the extent of commercial advertising in public schools and the influence that it may have on children’s decision-making both for foods and other goods (Consumers Union, 1990, 1995; Greenberg and Brand, 1993; Bachen, 1998; Levine, 1999). Branded products are often advertised to students in a variety of school venues. Examples of these venues include required in-school television viewing such as Channel One, school textbooks, corporate-sponsored classroom materials, sports equipment, school cafeteria foods, signage and equipment (refrigerated display cases), vending machine signage, uniform logos, advertising on school buses, product giveaways, coupons, incentive contests, book covers, mouse pads, and book clubs.
Commercial activities involving schools have been categorized as follows (GAO, 2000; Wechsler et al., 2001):
Product sales: short-term fundraising activities benefiting a specific student activity; cash or credit rebate programs; and commerce in products that benefit a district, school, or student activity (e.g., vending machine contracts; class ring contracts)
Direct advertising on school property: billboards, signs, and product displays; signs on school buses; corporate logos or brand names on