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HL20: Ginny Ehrlich, MPH, D.Ed—Lessons on Childhood Obesity, for Kids and Adults

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2012

"We've seen tremendous success with our Healthy Schools Program. It's now considered an evidence-based approach and is being used to change policies in the school systems nationwide. In March the CDC talked about the efficacy of our model in preventing chronic disease," says Ehrlich. "Eighty percent of schools in this program are making measurable changes, like adding more fruits and vegetables to school breakfast and lunch menus and eliminating sugar beverages in vending machines."

In addition to working with the schools to raise awareness with the children about healthy eating, the Alliance has worked to eliminate barriers not only inside the schools but also outside.

The organization created a landmark agreement with the American Beverage Association that contributed to a 90% reduction in calories in the beverages shipped to schools since 2004, according to the American Journal of Public Health. The agreement calls for the ABA to remove the majority of full-calorie soft drinks. Now drinks available to students at school vending machines and cafeterias are nutritious, sized proportionate to age, and are low or no calorie.

To make it easier for the school cafeterias to get affordable healthy food options, the Alliance has also worked with group purchasing organizations and collaborated with a technology firm to create a free online tool to streamline the healthy food procurement process for schools.

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