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August 25, 2009

Wakefield on NPR: The Numbers on School Wellness Policies

A lot of requests have come in for the stats that Nathan Richter shared during his interview on NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show out of Washington, DC. We’ve posted them below for your convenience.

Wakefield polling data indicates that school wellness policies either are not well understood, or not enforced.

While nearly seven in ten (68%) moms say their child’s school has a wellness policy prohibiting less healthy foods in vending machines and cafeterias, there’s a disconnect between the cafeteria table and mom’s kitchen table: millions of moms don’t understand their schools’ wellness policies. More than two in five (43%) moms don’t know which foods are prohibited at their child’s school, and almost a third (29%) don’t know why specific foods are prohibited.

This is a problem since, when schools are in session, moms end up on the sidelines when it comes to their kids’ lunches. Nearly nine in ten moms (89%) don’t completely trust their kids to eat healthfully when they’re not present to supervise, and more than four in five (84%) moms suspect their kid is engaging in unhealthy lunchtime behavior at school.

For example, one in five (20%) moms think that their kid is trading healthy food for unhealthy food when eating at school. Based on my own experience, a lot more moms don’ realize that Junior is trading his carrot sticks for cookies.

Worse yet, a lot of lunches end up in the trash. More than two in five (42%) moms suspect that their kid is only eating some of their healthy food and then throwing the rest away, and nearly a third (32%) say their kid is throwing away healthy food without even taking a bite.