Fuel Up to Play 60 helps students improve nutrition and physical activity

08/21/2012
Nutrition

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program that is helping schools create a healthier environment for students. Founded by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fuel Up to Play 60 provides students and schools with resources they can use to develop a plan that best fits their school. Since launching nationally in 2009, data shows that schools are making progress in promoting healthier eating habits and increasing physical activity among students. With more than 70,000 schools now enrolled in the program, Fuel Up to Play 60 provides a free “Playbook” of tools, resources, rewards and engagement activities to empower youth to work with adults in their school community to make healthy changes.

Among enrolled schools:

  • Nearly 7.5 million students nationwide are actively involved in the program by helping to plan, lead, implement or participate in peer-to-peer promotions, events and in-school change strategies.
  • Nearly two-thirds of enrolled adults say the program is helping students make healthier food choices.
  • More than half (56 percent) say the program is helping to increase opportunities for students to be physically active before, during and after school; 58 percent say it is helping to increase the amount of time students are physically active.

Schools across the nation are taking real action. Here in the Southeast, Northern Guilford Middle School (Greensboro, NC) held a 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk, including an obstacle course, and a Fun Family Nutrition and Fitness Carnival that provided nutrition information. An Advisory Committee made up of student leaders, along with school staff and parents provided leadership for the event. Students were actively involved from the beginning implementation – including setting goals and promotional activities – through the end of the event.

“These are the kind of results we were hoping for. Our goal from the onset was to help empower schools and students to identify and implement strategies that can help students make healthier choices when it comes to eating and physical activity,” said Jean H. Ragalie, RD, president of the National Dairy Council. “In this time of economic challenges and time constraints, it is even more important to create an environment that makes eating healthy and staying active attainable, within any type of budget, in any school district.”

Fuel Up to Play 60 addresses real-world circumstances of resource-strapped schools by offering funding opportunities to help schools make strides in meeting wellness goals. (Approximately 60 percent of funded schools serve a largely low-income student body.) As a result, Fuel Up to Play 60, supported in part by U.S. dairy farmer families, has given a combined total of over $20 million in funds and rewards to help participating schools increase access to nutrient-rich foods and physical activity.

Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D. says these kinds of initiatives are needed to promote better health for America’s youth because they allow schools to customize solutions to meet the needs of their students and community.

“Schools are one of the biggest battlegrounds in tackling the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Satcher. “We know there is no silver bullet available to combat this problem, but it is clear that programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 can produce small ‘wins’ by motivating kids to make better healthy eating and physical activity choices.”

In addition to a network of more than 90,000 adults enrolled in the program, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services co-signed an agreement to support Fuel Up to Play 60 earlier last year. Supported by health and nutrition organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the School Nutrition Association, the program now involves schools that serve more than 36 million students nationwide. In February 2011, GENYOUth Foundation was launched to raise funds for Fuel Up to Play 60 and other in-school programs of its kind, and to give leaders in health, business, government and communities nationwide the opportunity to be a part of a movement that relies on participation, collaboration and action to help reverse childhood obesity rates.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council (NDC) and National Football League (NFL), with additional partnership support from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Schools, parents and students can learn more about Fuel Up to Play 60 at www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.

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