State Health Department Releases Activ8Kids! Toolkit to Elementary Schools Statewide

ALBANY, March 20, 2006 - As part of New York State's obesity prevention initiatives, the State Health Department today announced the release of the Activ8Kids! Toolkit to approximately 3,800 elementary schools statewide (K-5). The toolkit, developed in partnership with the New York State Department of Education, encourages schools to develop policy and environmental changes that will support healthy eating choices and increased physical activity to further improve the health of New York's children.

"Research shows that increased physical fitness, participation in school activities, and healthy diets among students improves their attendance in school," said State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. "We encourage every school to make a difference in creating strategies that lead to healthy eating and creating environments that promote physical activity in schools and communities."

One out of four children is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight or obese and are at greater risk of diabetes and other serious health problems. Children who are not physically active and make poor nutritional choices are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other potentially life-threatening diseases.

Schools will find the toolkit helpful in developing a wellness strategy for schools under the Local Education Agency (LEA) participating in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program and Summer Food Program.

The toolkit includes information on:

  • Assessing the current nutrition and physical activity environment in schools;
  • Developing local wellness policies for schools;
  • Nutrition guidelines for snacks, vending and fund raising;
  • Physical activity guidelines and recommendations for all youth; and
  • Best practices from New York State schools for promoting lifelong physical activity and improved nutrition through school-based activities.

Activ8Kids! is a comprehensive approach to fighting the childhood overweight and obesity epidemic. The goal of Activ8Kids! is to instill in children before the age of eight, daily habits that include: eating at least five (5) servings of vegetables and fruits; participating in at least one (1) hour of physical activity; and reducing time in front of television and video game screens to fewer than (2) hours.

The new toolkit can be found on the State Health Department's web site (www.nyhealth.gov) and through links at partnering agencies and organizations, including the State Education Department; Action for Healthy Kids; National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity; and Be Active New York State.