Students get HEALTHY in school

February 22, 2008 9:10:51 AM PST
A unique approach is giving young Philadelphians a fitter future. It brings together obesity and fitness experts from Temple University plus the federal government.

7th graders at Woodrow Wilson Junior High in Northeast Philadelphia are on the move - even more than most teens.

They are part of a nationwide study called Healthy, designed to see what works in preventing obesity - and its consequences, such as type 2 diabetes.

That's rising among children at an alarming rate.

With the help of Temple University obesity and fitness experts, the school has overhauled its cafeteria, and physical education.

In the lunchroom, there's more salad...

The pizza uses whole wheat flour...

Snacks are low-fat, and less than 200 calories.

And the chips and crackers are baked, not fried!

Students also get lessons on making real-life healthy choices.

Eileen Ford, Ph.D., R.D., the program director, says, "We're looking at evaluating which chip would be a better choice, no only in terms of fat, but in terms of portion size."

Even early on, the study's findings have been eye-openers.

Researchers say over half the middle-schoolers nationwide are already overweight, and many of their parents have diabetes.

These students get more than the usual phys-ed - about 2 hours a week.

And the emphasis is on getting them moving, with activities they can do anywhere, from now through adulthood.

The students are really biting into this important opportunity, carrying the message to their families.

Kiara Rodriguez, a 7th grader, says ,"I look at the nutrition facts and the calories, and the stuff like that."

And the lessons are reaching into the students' homes, changing patterns there.

Kiara notes, "My mom said why are you always looking at labels? Cause I learned that in HEALTHY!"

Late next year, the experts will crunch the numbers, and we'll tell you how the kids did.