School Diet and Nutrition – One School That Does It Right

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In yesterday’s article, I discussed how the food lobby is playing a big role in creating impediments to good school diet and nutrition eating habits.  By doing what is right for them, and not right for school kids, food companies are helping to create a young generation of High Density Lifestylers.

But the good news on the school diet and nutrition front is that there are schools that do it right. Today I want to tell you about one such school.

The School That Gets Diet and Nutrition Right

One school that gets their diet and nutrition right is the Browns Mill Elementary School in Lithonia Georgia. They cut out sugar, soda and junk food from their premises, and have been like that for 10 years, thanks to their principal, Dr. Yvonne Sanders-Butler.

“Childhood obesity, it’s our tsunami, it’s our Katrina,” she said. “If we’re really thinking about the best interests about the young people today, then we will take a stand.”

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Dr. Butler has written a book, "Healthy Kids, Smart Kids."

Dr. Sanders-Butler overhauled the school’s menu, nutrition program and vending machines after battling her own weight troubles and surviving a stroke at 39. When she sought to eliminate sugar from the school, many resisted and warned her she was endangering her job.

The school day starts with an hour of jumping jacks, exercising and dancing — one morning to the beat of “Whoomp! (There It Is)” as the children bounce and sing along. Students also eat a breakfast of omelets, soy milk, organic cereal and turkey sausages.

“When students are healthy, they do their best work…” Sanders-Butler said. “We want to make sure we’re providing foods that will not only nourish the body, but also brain foods.”

“One of the most requested vegetables now is broccoli…” Sanders-Butler said. “Can you believe that? The kids love broccoli.”

How the School Improved

In the first six months of the sugar ban, disciplinary incidents went down 23 percent, counseling referrals decreased 30 percent, and in the first years of standardized test scores, reading scores improved 15 percent, she said. Browns Mill was named a national blue ribbon school and a Georgia school of excellence in 2005.

The school since 1998 has shown improvements in test scores, truancy rates and counselor referrals, said Dr. Terry Huang, the director of obesity research for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Simone Davis, who was a fifth-grader when the school banned sugar, credits the program with ingraining lifelong lessons about healthy eating.

“I was one of the heavier students in elementary school, so I really lost a lot of weight and just became healthier overall with the changes,” said Davis, who is now a slender junior at Spelman College. “Kids were hyper, bouncing off the wall and those things changed.”

“If we don’t do something, we’re talking about children that are probably going to lose their life at some point. We have to take a stand,” she said.

Browns Mill fifth-grader Cori Bostic said she would prefer honeydew, watermelon or cantaloupe to cake anyway.

Wincing slightly, the fifth-grader said, “Junk food makes my stomach hurt.”

One of the best ways to learn the right diet and nutrition habits is to learn them in school as a kid.  Because diet and nutrition is such an important part of health, eating a healthy diet as a child is a sure road to living a Low Density Lifestyle as an adult (and for that matter as a kid).