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Private School News

The survey's population sample was large and included information detailed enough so that researchers could compare data among ninth graders in the same school in the years before and after a fast-food restaurant opened within the vicinity. They looked at obesity rates both before and after, spanning almost a decade.

Schools that are within one-tenth of a mile of pizza, burger, and/or other popular fast-food chains had a 5% higher obesity rate.

What the study didn't reveal was why students closer to such places were more likely to be obese. Professor of economics, Dr. Moretti at the University of California, was quoted, "It could be because students don't like to wander too far. Maybe they don't have long lunch periods. Maybe it's just the effect of having temptation right in front of your eyes."

Also interesting, this study looked at pregnant women in New Jersey, Michigan, and Texas over 15 years. After adjusting for a number of variables such as income, education and race (which was also adjusted for when studying student obesity), they concluded that women living within a half-mile of fast food restaurants were at increased risk of gaining more than 44 pounds during their pregnancy, compared with those living farther away.

How can this impact your campus? Certainly you can't move your entire school away from fast food restaurant and take-out places. However, by taking into consideration the elevated risk for your students' and staff's health, you can educate on the possible side effects of eating at such places frequently.

Be proactive! Try posting a list of healthier food places, alternatives to fast food, in teacher lounges, and try establishing promotional discounts for your students and staff to eat there. Large and small cafes alike are usually willing to offer 10% discounts to local students, or dedicated days of the month (e.g. every first Tuesday) where school associates can receive savings.

Also, remember reminders are needed. Bad habits are easy to slide back into—by keeping information fresh in people's minds (but not irritating them with scary statistics daily) they are more likely to stay on track with a healthier lifestyle. Every now and again, add a health tid bit in your school's newsletter.

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