School Nurses Identified By CDC As Leaders
As the country struggles with how to address the childhood obesity epidemic, schools are increasingly being asked to be a frontline participant in battling the issue. In addition to revamping school lunch menus and vending machines, some schools are implementing BMI programs to monitor the situation since they have access to the vast majority of American youth.
According to the CDC’s Executive Summary on Body Mass Index Measurement in Schools, schools are taking BMI measurements for surveillance and screening purposes. Surveillance results are typically kept anonymous and can be used to track overall trends in different populations. Screening results are typically intended to be shared with the student and parents to help them take appropriate action.
The report outlines that programs should adhere to a number of standards intended to protect students. These standards include, but are not limited to, making sure staff is trained, maintaining accurate equipment for the measurements, and accurately calculating and interpreting the data. School nurses are noted as being ideal personnel to lead these types of programs and train staff, due to their education and background.
To reduce the risk of harming students, BMI measurement programs should adhere to the following safeguards:
(1) introduce the program to school staff and community members and obtain parental consent,
(2) train staff in administering the program (ideally, implementation will be led by a highly qualified staff member, such as the school nurse),
(3) establish safeguards to protect student privacy,
(4) obtain and use accurate equipment,
(5) accurately calculate and interpret the data,
(6) develop efficient data collection procedures,
(7) avoid using BMI results to evaluate student or teacher performance, and
(8) regularly evaluate the program and its intended outcomes and unintended consequences.
BMI Measurement Resources for Nurses
CDC's Executive Summary on Body Mass Index Measurement in Schools>>
AAP's Report on BMI Measurement in Schools>>
MyPlate vs. MyPyramid
In June 2011, MyPlate officially replaced MyPyramid for visually representing the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines. MyPlate is designed to be easier and more practical to follow for consumers trying to eat a balanced diet.
- Less emphasis on grains, but still a large emphasis on whole grains – more focus is now fruits and vegetables which take up half the plate.
- Oils and sugar are no longer mentioned
- Focus on plate is PORTION size vs. SERVING size, which is easier for consumers to follow
- Because protein comes in a variety of sources like meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and beans; protein is no longer identified as a specific food group (i.e. meat)
- Emphasis on the following guidelines1:
- “Enjoy your food, but eat less”
- “Avoid oversized portions”
- “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables”
- “Make at least half your grains whole grains”
- “Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk”
- “Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers”
- “Drink water instead of sugary drinks”
The new guidelines also address physical activity and emphasize choosing activities that you enjoy.
5 Websites for New MyPlate Materials
- www.chooseMyPlate.gov – You’ll find coloring sheets, recipes, sample menus and more
- The Dairy Council of CA – Kids (ages 4-8) can play the free MyPlate Match Game online!
- Nourish Interactive – A wealth of free printable and interactive games for children based on MyPlate
- Super Kids Nutrition – Fun, free nutrition activities for kids by age and also in Spanish
- School Health – Has an entire new category MyPlate products including a bulletin board kit, videos/DVDs, stickers, posters and banners
Childhood Obesity and Schools
According to the CDC, approximately 17% or 12.5 million children (ages 2-19) are classified as obese2. That is nearly triple the rate of childhood obesity in 1980. The CDC recognizes that schools play an important role in improving the dietary and physical activities of children. In response, they have developed 9 guidelines, complete with implementation strategies to help schools achieve results.
Download the CDC’s School Health Guidelines to Promote Health Eating and Physical Activity>>
What are your thoughts regarding the new MyPlate Icon? Do you think it will be easier to teach and for children to use? Please share your thoughts below in the comments section…
1 U.S. Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate.gov Website. Washington, DC. Selected Messages for Consumers. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/guidelines/SelectedMessages.pdf. Accessed November 17, 2011.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC.gov Website. Atlanta, GA. Data and Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/data.html. Accessed November 17, 2011.