Monday, May 3, 2010

D.C. Council Launching Campaign Against Childhood Obesity

“The D.C. Council plans to give final approval Tuesday to school nutrition and physical education standards that would be among the strictest in the country, mandating that low-calorie and low-fat meals be served to about 71,000 students and eventually tripling the time they are required to spend exercising. The measure was inspired by first lady Michelle Obama's efforts to have children eat healthier foods and exercise more, and it would move breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom in many D.C. schools to improve participation. Officials said the program, estimated to cost as much as $23 million over four years, could be paid for through a citywide soda tax. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who sponsored the legislation, said she will propose a penny-per-ounce tax on soda, an idea that appears to have broad council support. ‘When this legislation takes effect in Washington, D.C., it will signal best practices to all of us and pave the way for our nation to follow,’ said Waters, owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Cafe in Berkeley, Calif. Cheh's bill also would put much greater emphasis on physical education in city schools. Elementary students, for instance, receive an average of 45 minutes of physical education a week. The bill would increase the requirement to 150 minutes starting in 2014. In middle school, where students now have physical education for one trimester, they would attend gym class throughout the school year for at least 225 minutes a week. ‘We need to pass this 'cause our kids are getting fatter and fatter,’ council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) said at a council meeting...

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