Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

SB 206: Special Subcommittee to Study Childhood Obesity

May 3, 2006

Senator Russell Potts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Health, appointed a special subcommittee to study SB 206 (2006) and examine childhood obesity in the public schools. Senators Mary Margaret Whipple (chair), Louise Lucas, and Nick Rerras were appointed to the subcommittee. They met with Senator John Edwards, the patron of the bill, and other interested parties on May 3, 2006.

SB 206 Summary

SB 206 requires the Board of Education in cooperation with the State Department of Health to establish standards to help prevent and reduce obesity in children attending public schools in the Commonwealth. By July 1, 2008, all Division superintendents are required to complete instruction and training on the causes and consequences of overweight students and the relationship between obesity and nutrition, health, and learning.

SB 206 Objectives

  • Set statewide nutritional standards.
  • Teach children about nutrition.
  • Increase physical fitness opportunities for children.

Guest Speakers
Lynne Fellin - Acting Director of School Nutrition Programs, Department of Education

Ms. Fellin spoke to the group about what local school divisions, the federal government, and the Governor are doing to address the problem of childhood obesity.

School divisions were required by federal law to submit a wellness policy to the government by July 1, 2006, and involve parents, students, school nutrition staff, the school board, school administrators, and the public in the development of the plan. The wellness policy is required to include:

  • Goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other school activities to promote student wellness.
  • Nutrition standards for foods and beverages available during the school day.
  • Assurance that local guidelines will be consistent with USDA school nutrition programs.
  • A plan for measuring the success of wellness plans in local schools .

Ms. Fellin briefly outlined other federal childhood obesity initiatives, including the Governor's Healthy Virginians program, which promotes healthy lifestyles in the workplace, school, and among families. Through the Healthy Virginians program, schools may voluntarily participate in the Nutrition and Physical Activity Awards Program, which provides guidelines and a scorecard for schools and students to develop good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle of regular physical activity. The scorecard acts as a guide for the program and addresses physical education, instruction in nutrition, standards for food and drinks sold during the school day, and other activities that promote student wellness. Since February 2005, more than 300 schools have used the online scorecard, and 15 schools in 10 school divisions have earned awards for meeting healthy living goals.

Anne Massey - Department of Health

Ms. Massey spoke to the group about the Department of Health's CHAMPION program, which establishes a strategic plan and a "best practices" guide to help prevent and reduce childhood obesity across Virginia. Over the past two years, 640 citizens have participated in the regional CHAMPION meetings to explore ideas and available community resources that may benefit all Virginia school districts. The CHAMPION program offers a state resource guide, along with information about community-based programs for citizens who wish to become more active in childhood obesity prevention in the public school system. The CHAMPION program and regional meetings have led to new initiatives, including:

  • Public Service Announcements on television and radio featuring Chicago Bears running back and Virginia native, Thomas Jones, who urges kids to “Get Moving !”
  • Department of Health monthly press releases with tips and suggestions on how to incorporate healthy foods and physical activity into everyday life.
  • Virginia Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program changes that provide lowfat or skim milk for children over two and beans or peas instead of peanut butter for children in the 90-95th height/weight percentile.

The Hon. Mary Margaret Whipple

For information, contact:
Jessica Eades, Nikki Seeds, and Norma Szakal, DLS Staff

Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

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