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Ohio school obesity bill a mixed bag


Rachael Ray teaches healthy eating to 3rd graders (AP/Evan Vucci)

On Thursday, lawmakers approved a watered-down version of a bill proposing to tackle the rising obesity rates among children.  This compromise bill, while lacking the teeth that the older version had, may help forestall the growing epidemic of overweight and obese children.

The bill provides for weight and BMI screenings for children attending Ohio schools and requires P.E. teachers in the state to be licensed in that field beginning in 2013.  Perhaps most important among the measures passed, this bill places strict nutritional guidelines for meals provided by the school and for foods in school vending machines.  The availability of foods with high calorie counts and low nutritional quality is certainly a major component of the obesity epidemic in Columbus, in Ohio, and around the country.

One of the key failures for the bill's supporters came from the removal of the requirement that schools provide students with at least 30 minutes of rigorous physical activity each day.  This requirement was bitterly opposed by school districts, claiming they could not afford such an unfunded mandate.  An initial compromise, allowing schools to request a waiver releasing them from this requirement failed to win enough support.  In the end, the bill was passed with a voluntary pilot program allowing school's to opt-in to providing this exercise.  The need for this political compromise is understandable, but unfortunate.  While students may be forced to wait until the end of the school day to have a Twinkie, it is unlikely that those students who most need the help will suddenly be opting to get the exercise they neglect to get now.


  • montreal women's issues, health and mental health 5 years ago

    yes the overweight children will not want the program but perhaps the schools can that are interested in the program can make it mandatory.

  • Kellie Glass RD, LD 5 years ago

    When it comes right down to it, healthy kids start at home. It's the job of mom and dad to set the example of how to lead an overall healthy lifestyle for their children. Our schools can encourage healthy choices and continue the work being done at home. For more information on how to lead an overall healthy lifestyle visit

  • Lisa Carey-Houston Family Examiner 5 years ago

    It is the parents job, but it's hard to fight all the crap that schools serve and make available. Older kids use their allowance to buy it on their own. Get rid of the junk and should that 30 minutes of physical activity be in recess or at gym class? What are they doing then?

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