What kids will be missing when they go back to school.

My Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week is about the experience of heading back to school. But it’s really about what most kids won’t experience when they are in school—any meaningful education about nutrition, activity, and health.

To be sure, the time that students spend learning the math and science, reading and writing, and art and music is time well spent. Unfortunately, though, in most schools, this comes at the expense of health education. In fact, opportunities for children to be active in school, either through formal physical education or more informal play and recess, has declined over the years. Good nutrition isn’t likely to get much classroom time at any level and the food served in most school hardly sends a positive message about healthy eating. These are missed opportunities!

This isn’t new, of course. I have written about the both the importance of physical activity for growth and learning for children (and adults, too) and the impact of these missed opportunities before. And I’m certainly not the only one to take notice. Probably the most widely known advocate in this area is Jamie Oliver, and his efforts made nutrition and health in schools topics for discussion among parents, teachers, administrators, and politicians alike.

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