Kids in the U.S. spend most of their time in school.
And recent data from the Centers for Disease Control finds 16 percent of those children 6 to 19 years of age, are overweight.
With that in mind, researchers are now looking at the impact public education systems can have on helping kids stay fit.
Here's Susan Hendricks with today's Health Minute.
Can public schools make a difference in a child's health?
According to new data published on the on-line version of the New England Journal of Medicine, yes.
If schools have strong pe programs and healthier lunches, their students seem to benefit.
"What we found is from that comprehensive program, we were able to reduce the rates of obesity in children who were particularly at high risk."
The research, known as the Healthy Study, is a three-year, nationwide program that looked at how school-based interventions could cut the risk of type-2 diabetes in kids from high risk populations.
Half of the 42 schools that participated adopted healthy's nutrition guidelines, including healthy food offerings and more pe time, and the other half did not.
At the end of the study, children at intervention schools kept their weight down, lowered their sugar levels and cut their body fat.
"The difference between the groups was about three percent, and that might sound like a small percentage but if you take three percent of all the sixth through eighth graders in this country, from a public health point of view, it's a home run."
Even though the study focused on the impact schools can make, Foster says it's now time to look outside the school halls and see what communities can do to help kids fight the obesity epidemic.
For Today's Health Minute, I'm Susan Hendricks.
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