Prevention: A Blueprint for Action. Action Steps for Schools


Schools are an especially critical site for encouraging healthy behaviors in youth.  Most children spend a large portion of their time in school.  In many cases, life-long habits and behaviors, good and bad, are formed during the elementary and middle school years.  Schools, therefore, offer an opportunity to engage children in healthy eating and regular physical activity and to reinforce important health messages including those regarding avoidance of risky behaviors.  Schools can also provide a bridge to eliciting parental involvement in shaping children’s habits and attitudes about healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Encourage cooperation among teachers, coaches, nurses, and food service staff to educate students about the importance of proper nutrition and regular physical activity to lifelong healthy weight maintenance.
  • Reinforce healthy habits by examples set by role models including teachers, coaches, and other school personnel.
  • Engage parents in a process to enhance their understanding of the importance of healthy diets and the benefits of exercise and engage them to reinforce this message in their homes.
  • Provide age-appropriate extracurricular physical activity and organized sports programs.
  • Provide elementary school students with daily recess periods for unstructured supervised play.
  • Encourage regular physical activity for all children (pre-school through 12th grade) in order to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and confidence to sustain life-long physically active lifestyles.
  • Explore the possibility of creating “before the bell” and after school physical fitness and nutrition programs for students.
  • Provide age-appropriate and culturally appropriate instruction in health education.
  • Provide healthy food and snack options in school cafeterias and vending machines.
  • Incorporate health-related tasks, materials and examples in regular everyday instruction for preschool to grade 12 education, including the topics of nutrition and the balance between calories consumed and calories expended in physical activity.

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