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Healthy Schools, Healthy Youth

Healthy Schools, Healthy Youth

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being. The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including schools, families and communities. Schools play a particularly critical role by establishing a safe and supportive environment with policies and practices that support healthy behaviors. Schools also provide opportunities for students to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.

Guidelines for Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Photo: Students running on playgroundCDC developed nine School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity based on a synthesis of research and best practices. Informed by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,1 the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,2 and the Healthy People 2020 objectives, these guidelines serve as the foundation for developing, implementing, and evaluating school-based healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices for students.

Physical Education and Physical Activity

Children and adolescents should participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day. A substantial percentage of students’ physical activity can be provided through a comprehensive, school-based physical activity program that includes: physical education, recess, classroom-based physical activity, walk and bicycle to school, and out-of-school time activities.

Healthy Eating

Photo: Two students in front of lockers, eatingSchools can provide access to healthy foods and reinforce healthy dietary behaviors. Schools can ensure that only nutritious and appealing foods and beverages are provided in all food venues in schools, including: school meal programs; à la carte service in the cafeteria; vending machines; school stores and snack bars/concessions stands; fundraisers on school grounds; classroom-based activities; staff and parent meetings; and after-school programs.

Health and Academic Success

Photo: Girl in classroom, raising handThe health of students is linked to their academic success. Both physical activity and healthy eating may help improve academic achievement.


More Information


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  • Page last updated: October 9, 2012 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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