One in every four Utah students grades K-8 is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. That is enough students to fill 124 elementary schools or 2,067 classrooms.
With obesity on the rise among children, schools have become the ideal place to teach students about physical activity and nutrition. Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher identified schools as a key setting to prevent and decrease the prevalence of overweight and obesity. Schools can provide many opportunities to engage children in healthy eating and physical activity and to reinforce healthy diet and physical activity messages. All of these healthy habits combined can also produce better overall mental health, self-esteem, and academic success.
Through the Gold Medal Schools™ program elementary schools provide physical activity and healthy nutrition choices at a time when budget cuts and testing requirements overshadow physical activity and nutrition. Gold Medal Schools improves students' academic success through policies and environmental changes that support good nutrition, physical activity, and staying tobacco-free.
The Utah Department of Health developed the Gold Medal Schools program in 2001 using the State Office of Education's core curriculum and the Center of Disease Control's guidelines to address overweight and obesity in elementary schools. Gold Medal Schools has reached more than 202,841 students and over 8,871 teachers in 373 elementary schools.