What is the Certified Healthy School Program?
The Certified Healthy School Program was started in 2010 by a health champion in the Oklahoma legislature. The program is administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Certified Healthy Schools is a free statewide annual certification dedicated to recognizing school sites that are working to improve student and employee health by providing wellness opportunities and implementing policies that lead to healthier lifestyles.
Why Does Certified Healthy Matter?
Becoming a Certified Healthy School means you are providing a healthy environment for students and employees, along with supporting an overall healthier Oklahoma. By meeting most or all of the criteria to become Certified Healthy, Schools provide an established environment to foster behavior modification among students and employees, in addition to policy adoption and implementation. Introducing children and youth to healthy behaviors and practices now will support lifelong healthy habits.
The State of Health in Oklahoma Students
Many children and youth spend seven to eight hours a day in a public school setting. This means that a healthy school environment that encourages such things as nutritious meals, physical activity, and avoidance of tobacco products can have a big impact on the health of youth. Conversely, the absence of a healthy environment can contribute to a number of negative outcomes. Health-risk behaviors such as substance use, violence, and physical inactivity are consistently linked to poor grades, decreased school attendance, lower test scores, and an inability to pay attention in class.
The nation as a whole is struggling with physical inactivity in children. According to the 2018 U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, the nation gets a grade of a “D -“1. Their definition of a “D” grade is “We are succeeding with less than half of children and youth (20-39%)” p. 61. One of the worst areas in the report was in Schools. This area got a national grade of “D –“. The Schools section of the report includes things like the percentage of schools with daily PE, recess, bike racks at school, traffic calming measures on school property, and access to facilities and equipment for physical activity.
Data for Oklahoma school children is very limited. The childhood obesity rate among 2-4 year old WIC participants is 13.8%, but no readily available data exists for 10-17 year olds2. The obesity rate for high school students in Oklahoma is 17.1%2.
In Oklahoma High School Students:
- In 2017, almost 1 in 3 students described themselves as slightly or very overweight. Also, almost 1 in 2 were trying to lose weight3.
- Less than 1 in 3 students were physically active at least 60 minutes per day, every day of the past week3. Almost 1 in 2 students were active at least 60 minutes per day 5 or more days in the past week3.
- 83% of students did not eat fruit or drink fruit juice 3 or more times per day in the past week4.
- 88% of students did not eat vegetables 3 or more times per day in the past week4.
- In 2017, 1 in 8 high school students were current smokers3.
By contributing to the wellness of children and youth in schools, you are helping to create a better, brighter Oklahoma. Schools that advocate for health are recognized as leaders in the community!
- National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. The 2018 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Washington, DC. Available at http://physicalactivityplan.org/projects/PA/2018/2018%20US%20Report%20Card%20Full%20Version_WEB.PDF?pdf=page-link
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The State of Obesity. The State of Obesity in Oklahoma. Available at https://www.stateofobesity.org/states/ok/
- Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Oklahoma State Department of Health. 2017. Available at http://www.health.state.ok.us/ok2share/index.shtml
- Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Oklahoma State Department of Health. 2015. Available at http://www.health.state.ok.us/ok2share/index.shtml