Four Iowa schools are being honored in Arkansas today for their efforts to reduce childhood obesity. The event is being hosted by former President Clinton in Little Rock. Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, says a total of 275 schools nationwide are being recognized for transforming their campuses into healthier places.

“They have changed their school meals, their school stores,” Ehrlich says. “They’ve provided more physical education and health education. They have added more physical activity opportunities before, during and after school for both students and staff. They’ve worked with their staff to become trusted role models and healthy role models for students.”

She says each school has distinguished itself with healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies based on stringent standards set by the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program. “This effort is so important because we know that nearly one in three young people is already overweight or obese across this country,” Ehrlich says.

“We have an epidemic on our hands and we know that schools are where young people spend often half their waking hours. It’s an important setting to establish healthy messages and to establish healthy habits.” She singles out Southeast Polk Junior High School, in Pleasant Hill, as one of the honorees. For starters, that school offers its students unlimited servings of fruits and vegetables at lunch.

“They also have options for healthy beverages,” Ehrlich says. “They have daily physical education. They have intramural programs and quick physical activity breaks throughout the school day. Staff have gotten involved, too. They have regular exercise classes in the school fitness center which provides a great modeling opportunity for students to see the staff engaged in physical activity.”

The other Iowa schools being honored are: Northern University Elementary and Northern University High, both in Cedar Falls, and Spring Creek 6th Grade in Pleasant Hill. Each of the four Iowa schools will have representatives at today’s event. To learn more, visit: