Is France onto something? In January of 2004, a campaign called EPODE was launched in 10 French towns. Its intention was to change the eating habits of children aged 5-12. It was started after a pilot project in 2 towns from 1992 to 1997. Obesity in children in these towns did not increase from 1992 to 2000, where the rest of the region obesity in children DOUBLED!
These are not scientific studies but community initiatives. Official results on the 10 towns will be published later in 2009. The principles emphasized in these initiatives are multiple and vary by town. Several simple initiatives include eating a healthy breakfast, finding safe routes for walking to school, learning about vegetables in the classroom, inviting food professionals to talk in schools, organized games at playtime and discovery sessions to find out more about new foods.
In this time of budget cuts, we easily (and unfortunately) continually cut physical education budgets in our schools and limit recess time. It seems that instead we should be adding physical education classes as at home more kids are sedentary than ever before. We should be adding recess time also so that our children can continue play in an unstructured format.
I eagerly await the results of the EPODE studies and the chance to spread this message to the educators, physicians, politicians and families in our town.