If you are frequent reader of Sip & Savor, then you already know that we regularly emphasize how important physical activity is to maintaining a healthy, balanced and active lifestyle. Despite the known health benefits of regular physical activity, a recently released report by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Heart Association (AHA) reveals that although nearly 75 percent of states require physical education in elementary through high school, most do not require a specific amount of instructional time  - and nearly half allow exemptions, waivers and/or substitutions.

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown was quoted in a news release saying, “The fact that kids are being deprived of physical education in school is unacceptable, especially in a nation suffering from a childhood obesity epidemic. Making physical activity a part of the daily routine is critical to saving the next generation of Americans from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious problems.”

Our industry understands how unique the school environment is, and we are doing our part to support parents and help children learn about the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. Through our national School Beverage Guidelines, we drove a 90 percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools between 2004 and the end of the 2009-2010 school year.  The School Beverage Guidelines removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion options.

We also support “Let’s Move in School,” an initiative of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) that ensures that “every school provides a comprehensive school physical activity program with quality physical education as the foundation so that youth will develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime.”

Meaningful programs like this, along with balancing the calories consumed from all foods and beverages with those we burn through physical activity, are key to helping children maintain healthy and active lifestyles for a lifetime.