Schools take steps to fight childhood obesity

U.S. Food and Drug administration implemented new meal pattern requirements and nutrition standards for school lunches. / Sean Streicher

The Centers for Disease Control reports that since 1980, childhood obesity has almost tripled. The kids in southwest Georgia haven't been able to escape this trend.

Most recent statistics show state wide, 10 - 15% percent of children are obese. In some counties in the southwest health district that rate is 15 - 20%.

Experts say their diet deserves a lot of the blame.

"Historically in the south we eat a lot of fried foods, that are high in fat that are bad for us, and it's been handed down from generation to generation." said Lynn Burson, the director of child health in the Southwest Health District.

The U.S. Food and Drug administration is trying to improve children's diets by implementing new meal pattern requirements and nutrition standards in school lunches.

The new rules went in effect July 1st and mandate schools have more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu.

There has even been a bill introduced in Georgia that would require school vending machines to only be stocked with healthy options, something some schools are already doing.

Burson said at the start of the 2013-2014 school year parents and students can expect schools to implement another step to help fight childhood obesity, "children entering school for the first time historically have always had to have hearing vision and dental certificate done, starting next year it's going to be mandated they also have a nutritional screening done."

Experts say the responsibility to keep a child healthy doesn't rest solely on the school system and parents must make sure a child is living a healthy lifestyle at home as well.

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