National Summit, Web Site Support Nutrition Initiatives for Kids

Published September 1, 2005

Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK), an organization that promotes health and good nutrition for children, launched a new Web site to coincide with this month’s Healthy Schools Summit. The summit, taking place September 27 and 28 in Washington, DC, will gather leading educators and experts in children’s health and nutrition to address childhood obesity.

AFHK was launched in Washington in 2002 at the first Healthy Schools Summit. The group is a partnership of more than 50 organizations representing health care professionals, educators and administrators, and government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control.

Web Info on Nutrition

While the Healthy Schools Summit draws public attention to the challenges of raising healthy kids and provides information to those attending, AFHK seeks to offer assistance to schools and other organizations working with children.

AFHK works to improve children’s eating habits by increasing the healthy foods available to them at school; promotes after-school and co-curricular activities in an attempt to raise the level of physical activity children participate in during and after school; and educates administrators, teachers, and parents about the relationship between nutrition and children’s health and academic achievement.

The Web site includes data on childhood obesity and information on nutrition and physical education for children. A 60-page report, “The Learning Connection: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools,” examines the research showing the relationship between good nutrition and academic performance as well as the economic cost of poor nutrition.

A practical tool on the Web site is its Wellness Policy Tool, which assists local schools in developing a wellness policy. The 2004 Childhood Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act requires every school participating in the federal school lunch program to develop such a policy.

Healthy Schools Summit

The Healthy Schools Summit grew out of former U.S. Surgeon General David Hatcher’s 2001 “Call to Action” on the problems caused by obesity in the United States. The document considers the role schools can play in preventing and decreasing childhood obesity. In addition to schools, Hatcher identified families, health care systems, media, and worksites as areas that could address what he described as a growing epidemic.

First Lady Laura Bush served as honorary chair for the 2002 event and will serve in that capacity at the 2005 gathering. Peter Watkins, her deputy press secretary, said, “Mrs. Bush believes healthy students are better able to learn and will help build better communities. This is also part of Mrs. Bush’s Helping America’s Youth Initiative.” As part of that initiative, she encourages educational improvement and nonprofit organizations that work with youth.

The 2002 event featured remarks by leading public health experts on the links between nutrition and academic performance, and discussions about school-based activities that could improve public health.

USDA Partnership, Endorsement

An AFHK partner, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) “has focused on several practical approaches to improving good health, student wellness and establishing lifelong, nutritious eating habits,” said Susan Acker, staff director, public affairs for FNS.

“We have also worked closely with a number of partners to … explore solutions that include better nutrition and increased physical activity in our schools,” said Acker. “Action for Healthy Kids’ efforts … engage communities in improving local wellness and school nutrition environments.”

Michael Coulter ([email protected]) teaches political science at Grove City College.

For more information …

Visit the Action for Healthy Kids Web site at