Like the rest of the nation, Delaware’s students are bigger than past generations. About one-third of the state’s children are considered at risk for being overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More kids are coming to school with health conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol once only seen in older populations.
Gym classes and recess offer a chance to burn some calories and get moving, but more schools are looking for other ways to incorporate physical activity. They find opportunities in weekly swim classes, morning dance sessions and short bursts of activity between classes.
“The data shows it can help with learning as well as overall health,” said Dr. Gina Baffe, a pediatric cardiologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. “It doesn’t just have to be gym.”
This year’s Be Healthy Delaware: Weigh to Go! challenge includes participants from several local schools: Newark and Middletown high schools, Smyrna Middle School, Thurgood Marshall and Harlan elementary schools, among others.
Promoting staff health has been an ongoing focus at McCullough Middle School in New Castle, where 11 educators are part of the Weigh to Go! challenge.
About 14 staffers started a “Biggest Loser” challenge in December that lasts through spring break, said Amy Archer, school nurse.
When students see their teachers taking steps for their own health, it shows them what they are capable of as well, Archer said. “Every body type can run or walk. I tell them, if I can keep running, so can you.”
One challenge is helping kids feel comfortable using their bodies, Archer said. McCullough has a high poverty rate among its students. Some pupils rarely have healthy foods available at home. Their neighborhoods might not be safe enough to run around outside.
Read more about physical activity
Continue reading Weigh to Go