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Should schools do more to help obese students?

Johnson City Press • Nov 6, 2017 at 12:00 AM

School administrators across the nation are moving to address what some health officials have called an epidemic of overweight children. It is a problem that local school officials are very familiar with.

One survey conducted a few years ago found nearly 46 percent of Johnson City’s youth are either overweight or in danger of becoming overweight.

An American Heart Association report has placed Tennessee third in the nation for the rate of childhood obesity. And Tennessee is among the top five states in the prevalence of Type II diabetes in children.

Tennessee legislators have passed laws in recent years to require public schools to offer healthier choices in their cafeterias and vending machines. Locally, school officials in Johnson City and Washington County have implemented programs aimed at promoting better nutrition and physical fitness for their students.

Sodas and junk food have been removed from some vending machines on campuses and replaced with healthier snacks. School districts have even moved to remove trans fats from their cafeterias. Artificial trans fats, short for trans fatty acids, are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils commonly used for deep frying and baking processed cookies, cakes and crackers.

State requirements call for students to engage in at least of 90 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. That’s a start. Statistics show 75 percent of the waking hours for children in the United States are spent being inactive, with more than five hours per day spent engaging in some type of activity involving a digital screen.

Tell us what you think. Should school systems be doing more to address the problems of overweight and obese students?

Send your comments to mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

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