(ATLANTA) — Health practices in America’s schools are improving, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A six-year review of elementary, junior high and high schools across the country, called the School Health Policies and Practices study, showed an increase in physical activity requirements and nutritional offerings in U.S. schools.
“The percentage of districts to prohibit offering junk food in vending machines increased from 29.8 percent to 43.4 percent,” Holly Hunt with the CDC told ABC News.
The study showed that schools also have more nutritional options for breakfast and lunch, and more elementary schools are requiring students to take part in physical education — efforts Hunt says may lead to better students.
“Physical activity and nutrition — why those environments are so critical to students academic success … because we know that there is a link between healthy behavior and learning,” she said.
The percentage of districts requiring elementary schools to teach physical education increased to 93.6 percent in 2012 from 82.6 percent in 2000, Hunt said.
The CDC study also showed that school districts are taking health efforts beyond the classroom, too. More than half of the districts had agreements with local groups like the YMCA or scouts to use school facilities during non-school hours.
“The ability of schools to share with the community their facilities actually contributes to the students’ well-being also because they can only get so much physical education, physical activity during the school day,” Hunt said.
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