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Journal Issue: Childhood Obesity Volume 16 Number 1 Spring 2006

The Role of Schools in Obesity Prevention
Mary Story Karen M. Kaphingst Simone French

Federal Policy Initiatives

The most recent federal policy initiatives for preventing childhood obesity are found in the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act of 2004, which requires each school district that participates in the federal school meal program to enact a wellness policy by the day the 2006–2007 school year opens. School districts must set goals for nutrition education and physical activity, write nutrition guidelines for all foods available at school, ensure that school meal guidelines are not less restrictive than federal requirements, and evaluate how well the new policy is implemented. Parents, students, the school food service, and school administrators must be involved in developing the new policy. The Food Research and Action Center and the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity are developing information and guidelines to assist states and school districts.

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act also expanded a USDA pilot program begun by the 2002 Farm Act that provided fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost to children in 107 elementary and secondary schools in four states and on one Indian reservation. A 2003 evaluation found that most participating schools considered the pilot program successful and felt strongly that it should continue.141  The expanded program will serve children in four more states and two more Indian reservations, with special emphasis on low-income children.142