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Wednesday, Oct. 4
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

Study combats obesity in schools

Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana have some of the highest obesity rates in the U.S., according to the United States Centers for Disease Control.

To help alleviate this epidemic, IU’s Indiana Institute on Disability and Community and Ewha Womans University, in Seoul, South Korea, have developed the Healthy, Energetic, Ready, Outstanding, Enthusiastic Schools initiative study.

“We have data to suggest that changes in schools’ wellness environments are greater when individual schools, rather than entire districts, plan and implement policies and programming based on the needs of their specific students, staff and families,” said Mindy Hightower King, principal investigator for the study and an evaluation manager with the Indiana Institute’s Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, in a press release.

The study focuses on schools in Southern Indiana, Northwestern Kentucky and Southeastern Illinois.

According to a press release, the study worked to create programs that would reduce the number of overweight children in elementary, middle and high schools by modifying their diets and physical activity schedules.

There are eight main activities associated with this change: health education, physical education, health services, nutrition services, counseling, psychological and social services, healthy school environment, and health promotion for staff, family and community involvement, according to

Each month, the HEROES home page features a spotlight school that is participating in the initiative.

This month, the focus is on Wood Memorial High School in Oakland City, Ind.
WMHS was chosen for its expanded breakfast and lunch menus offering healthy choices and its physical education class and after school “Fit Club.”

According to the study published by both participating research programs, after 18 months of influence, not only did the number of obese and overweight students decrease, but the number of underweight students decreased as well.

This means that the healthy activities encouraged by the HEROES initiative were not only helping children to lose weight, but also to become healthier overall.

“These changes include, but are not limited to, healthier foods available in classrooms, concession stands and fundraisers, as well as opportunities for physical activity outside of dedicated PE classes,” King said.

Amanda Marino

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