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Soda Tax Could Help Reduce Childhood Obesity In Nebraska

Posted Feb 09 2013 11:25am

sodabottle From Your Health Journal…..”An interesting article from the Star Herald out of Nebraska written by Sara Giboney. The title of the article is called Soda Tax Could Help Reduce Childhood Obesity In Nebraska. We have written here quite often about the soda taxes in big cities like NYC and LA. Obesity has been in the news a great deal over the last few months, as many government officials have realized the high costs in the future that will be needed to assist many people who are unhealthy due to obesity. With the generous support of the media, who has discussed this in great detail, small changes are starting to take place nationwide. Now, the University of Nebraska at Kearney could play an integral role in helping Nebraska schools reduce childhood obesity. LB447, which was introduced in the Nebraska Legislature by state Senator Bill Avery, would tax soda and create the Nebraska Healthy Kids Fund, which aims to help schools implement wellness programs. What a nice gesture at the local level to help combat childhood obesity. It will be interesting to see how this tax will be received, as there are those who are in favor, those who are opposed. But, change is needed to help fight childhood obesity, as many are worried this could be the first generation of children whose life expectancy may be shorter than their parents. Please visit the Star Herald’s web site to view the complete article.”

From the article…..

The University of Nebraska at Kearney could play an integral role in helping Nebraska schools reduce childhood obesity.

LB447, which was introduced in the Nebraska Legislature by state Sen. Bill Avery, would tax soda and create the Nebraska Healthy Kids Fund, which aims to help schools implement wellness programs.

If the Nebraska Healthy Kids Fund receives funding, UNK will be responsible for collecting, analyzing and developing school-based reports for weight and fitness data.

“It’s taking the best practices from what we’ve learned here in Kearney as what seems to have been effective in decreasing the prevalence of overweight and obesity and preventing excessive weight gain and trying to implement those strategies in other schools across the state,” said Kate Heelan, professor of health, physical education and recreation and the Kearney Public Schools wellness program evaluator.

UNK has worked with KPS collecting weight and fitness data on students.

KPS has implemented new physical education curriculum, put salad bars into schools, began offering a wellness program for overweight families and more.

Lincoln Public Schools also has implemented a wellness program and has been collecting data.

Dr. Bob Rauner, chair of the Nebraska Medical Association’s public health committee and co-chair of the Nebraska Academy of Family Physicians’ Legislative Committee, has been working with Lincoln Public Schools to reduce childhood obesity with the help of a Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant, the same grant KPS used to implement its wellness program.

“This bill came out as a way to sustain what we’re doing in Lincoln and Kearney, but also roll it out to the rest of the state,” Rauner said.

“We want to make it happen everywhere because it’s working.”

Rauner said every school district in Nebraska has a wellness policy, but there isn’t a mandate that says the schools have to implement wellness programming.

“In Lincoln and Kearney, it (wellness policy) didn’t just sit on the shelf, we actually did things to change the policy,” he said.

In Lincoln, some schools had eliminated recess to create more time for academics, Rauner said.

“Kids need physical activity, and it actually helps their academics when they’re more active,” Rauner said. “Now, all schools have to have recess, they have to have physical activity breaks.”

Data collection will be the first step to help school districts across the state implement their own wellness policies.

If the bill is approved, beginning in 2014, UNK will receive $500,000 a year as part of the Nebraska Healthy Kids Fund.

The funds will be used to develop and maintain a statewide database for weight and fitness data on students in Nebraska public schools.

To read the full article….. Click here

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