Report looks at role of a school's design in reducing childhood obesity

Mar 18, 2013

A new study from a UNMC expert on childhood obesity asks whether a school’s design can reduce childhood obesity.

Dr. Terry Huang is the author of a report called “Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture.” The report looks at the role of design principles such as natural light, school gardens, and layouts that encourage students to move more.

Huang says there are also small things a school can do to encourage healthy eating.

"Simple things such as changing up the placement of items in a school cafeteria, like putting fruit in a nice bowl next to the cashier as opposed to chips. That alone has been shown in research to be effective and increase the overall chance that the child will actually pick up a fruit. So those types of strategies are effective even in schools that have no plans for renovations."

The Buckingham County Primary and Elementary School in Virginia has already implemented the guidelines. That project is currently being studied, and Dr. Huang hopes it’ll become part of school design principles nationwide if successful.

The CDC says last year, 13.8 percent of Nebraska children between the ages of two and five were obese.