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School Leaders, Parents React to New Obesity Numbers

2:16 PM, Jul 18, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A Southern Tier superintendent and a Buffalo parent both reacted to new numbers released by the state which show overweight and obesity rates for every school district in New York.

WEB EXTRA: Find data from your child's school district

2 On Your Side reported on the findings Tuesday, which were based on numbers released by the State Education Department for the first time this year.

The Scio Central School District had the highest overweight/obese rate among middle and high school students in the entire region, at 65.1%.

Interim Superintendent Gregory Hardy said he believes the numbers are skewed, because the district's small enrollment led to a small sample.

However, he acknowledges childhood obesity is a problem everywhere and said his district is doing all it can to fight back.

"We meet all of the state requirements on physical education," Superintendent Hardy said, adding that they are also including healthier meals in the classrooms and giving younger students recess time, enough though it is not required by the state.

The Buffalo City School District is among those that is not meeting state standards.

While New York requires kindergarten through 3rd grade students get physical education every day for at least 20 minutes, critics say Buffalo students are sometimes getting only 30 minutes of phys ed every six days.

Jessica Bauer Walker's children attend Buffalo Schools. She's also with the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo. Her group has rallied and protested outside City Hall, trying to encourage more phys ed in schools.

"There's so much research that says that physical education supports better academic achievement," Bauer Walker said. "You'll have better classroom outcomes. Districts that do it and schools that do it, they have better academic achievement."

Bauer Walker said there are some indications that the Buffalo City School District may be making improvements, including lengthening phys ed time and hiring more teachers; however, she said more pressure is needed to make sure leaders follow through.

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