Hawaii Wellness Standards Promote Health in Schools

October 23, 2014|11:33 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

To improve the health of young people, Hawaii has made a commitment in recent years to strongly support healthy environments in its schools—with healthy food and beverage offerings and by educating students about the lifelong benefits of physical activity and nutrition.

Issued by the Hawaii Department of Education, Hawaii's Wellness Guidelines are a set of standards for foods and beverages provided to students that include goals for school-based wellness committees, health and nutrition education, and physical education. All 255 Hawaii public, non-charter schools have been required to meet the Wellness Guidelines since 2011.

A report released this week by the state department of education shows that all public, non-charter schools in the state met an average of 76 percent of the state's guidelines in the 2012-2013 school year.

"Healthy and physically active students are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful," said Health Director Linda M. Rosen, MD, MPH. "Schools that follow the Wellness Guidelines provide a healthy foundation for their students to thrive in school and life."

Hawaii administers its Safety and Wellness Survey annually to school principals to monitor compliance with the Wellness Guidelines. Results show that during the 2012-13 school year, 94 percent of Hawaii schools reported integrating nutrition education into multiple areas of the curriculum, such as math, science, and English language arts, and 95 percent report they have required physical education classes that are aligned with state standards.

Additionally, 100 percent of schools report promoting the importance of eating nutritious meals and snacks, and 77 percent have a wellness committee that oversees Wellness Guidelines implementation.

Meeting the standards Hawaii has set for its public schools, however, is not always easy. Principals report that the greatest challenge for Hawaii schools is ensuring that only nutritious foods and beverages are sold or provided to students outside the cafeteria, with only 39 percent of schools meeting this requirement in 2012-13.

This information was adapted from a press release issued by the Hawaii Department of Health dated Oct. 20, 2014. More information about Hawaii's efforts to promote health in schools is available on the state health department's website.