Online Program

Creating healthy school environments: Supporting student health and academic success

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Caitlin Merlo, MPH, RD, Division of Population Health/School Health Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Introduction: Schools play a significant role in the lives of children and most children spend a large amount of their days in schools. The school environment can have a powerful influence on students’ eating and physical activity habits. A supportive school environment includes access to healthy foods and beverages, consistent messages about nutrition and physical activity, and opportunities for students to practice healthy eating and physical activity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 initiated many changes to the school environment including nutrition standards for school meals and competitive foods, requirements for access to drinking water, and requirements for local school wellness policies.

Approach: This presentation will 1) provide a snapshot of the current school environment through nationally representative data including results from CDC’s School Health Policies and Practices Study; 2) highlight evidence and gaps in the research on the connection between health and academic achievement; and 3) showcase tools and resources to support implementation of evidence-based healthy school environment strategies.

Results:  This presentation will cover research on the effects of the school environment on students’ healthy eating and physical activity, as well as their academic success. Tools and resources that can support evidence-based school health strategies will also be discussed.

Discussion: New federal policies aim to promote students’ health and academic success by focusing on the nutrition and physical activity environment of U.S. schools.  Such policies have the potential to enable millions of children to perform better academically and to develop healthier habits for a lifetime.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Assess the research on the impact of the school health environment on student health and academic success. Discuss evidence-based strategies to implement programs and policies that create healthier school environments.

Keyword(s): Nutrition, School-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as the lead for school nutrition at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Population Health. I develop science-based guidance and provide content expertise and technical assistance on strategies to improve the school nutrition environment, and support healthy eating among youth. I represent CDC on USDA’s Local School Wellness Policy Interagency Workgroup, and provide technical assistance to state and local health and education agencies on implementing new wellness policy requirements.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.