The Let’s Move! initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, is now entering its third year of improving child health and wellness. With the help of the Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign, this fight against childhood obesity is gaining ground.

Fuel Up to Play 60, an-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL), is proving to be successful in helping schools create a healthier environment for students. Launched in 2009, Fuel Up to Play 60 data shows that schools are making progress in promoting healthier eating habits and increasing physical activity among students.

More than 70,000 schools – 75 percent of U.S. school districts - are now enrolled in the program, including 7.5 million students nationwide who actively participate in the program.  

Schools across the nation, such as the Harding Elementary School in Erie, Pa., are taking action by improving school food options. At Harding Elementary, a healthy snack cart carrying low-fat yogurt, granola bars and fruit roam the halls in-between classes. Some schools have started walking clubs while others have conducted "taste tests" of foods like reduced-fat cheese, whole grains and fruit before voting for the healthy option they would like to see in their cafeteria.

For Jean H. Ragalie, RD, president of the National Dairy Council, it’s examples like these that show the success of the campaign.

“Our goal from the onset was to help empower schools and students to identify and implement strategies that can help students make healthier choices when it comes to eating and physical activity," Ragalie said in a news release. "In this time of economic challenges and time constraints, it is even more important to create an environment that makes eating healthy and staying active attainable, within any type of budget, in any school district."

Fuel Up to Play 60 addresses real-world circumstances of resource-strapped schools by offering funding opportunities to help schools make strides in meeting wellness goals.  As a result, Fuel Up to Play 60, supported in part by U.S. dairy farmer families, has given a combined total of over $20 million in funds and rewards to help participating schools increase access to nutrient-rich foods and physical activity.

According to Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., Fuel Up to Play 60 is the kind of initiative needed to promote better health for America's youth because it allows schools to customize solutions that best meet the needs of their students and community.

"Schools are one of the biggest battlegrounds in tackling the childhood obesity epidemic," said Satcher. "We know there is no silver bullet available to combat this problem, but it is clear that programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 can produce small 'wins' by motivating kids to make better healthy eating and physical activity choices."

 

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