School Programs Tackle Growing Obesity Problem

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According to a recent survey Arkansas will become one of 13 states with obesity levels more than 60 percent by 2030.

Health officials are starting at the core by teaching young children in school about healthy eating and exercise. 

“And they`re making changes in their household based on some of the things that their kids have brought home,” says Kelly Eubanks, Chef for the healthy kids cooking club at Owl Creek School.

The initiative is spreading through schools across the state with programs aimed around nutrition.

One of those programs Healthy Cooking and Gardening at Owl Creek School in Fayetteville.

Students spend part of the week cooking, and then they head to the kitchen to cook what they’ve grown.

“So we`re trying to connect from what they`re doing in the garden with what they`ve learned and then translate that into cooking and what they`re actually eating,” explains Eubanks.

This program through AmeriCorps also incorporates locally grown food in schools.

“We have a farm to school program that we are currently trying to expand so we buy as much local food produce over the summer for our summer lunch program from local growers,” says Sammi Jones Arkansas Energy Corps member for Fayetteville School District.

This year, the USDA also came out with stricter regulations on school lunches.

“There’s only low and non-fat milk offered at lunch. Students are offered a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and they have to take at least a half cup serving of fruits and vegetables every day at lunch,” explains Jones.

The report by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also said that Arkansas had the seventh highest obesity rate in 2011.

That same report also projects more than 65 percent of Oklahoma residents will be obese by 2030.