Members of the Mount Airy City Schools School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) have announced the results of a survey of its students’ Body Mass Index (BMI).
SHAC members Elke Boyd, Middle and High School Nurse Anita John, Mount Airy Middle School Athletic Director Ricky Vernon and Mount Airy Police Department Lt. Kelly Hiatt compiled the study in response to an earlier request from the board of education and presented their findings at a Feb. 5 meeting of the board.
“We’re not in bad shape, but there’s room for improvement,” said Vernon. “We are looking at ways of getting more opportunities for more physical activity in the school day.”
According to Assistant Superintendent Bryan Taylor, the testing was done in the fall by request from the board to learn how city schools students compared to body mass index results statewide and nationally.
“The largest percentages of our students fell within the normal range,” said Taylor. “We do have pockets of students that fall in overweight, obese and also in underweight categories. When you look at our numbers compared to the state and national data, we are comparable.”
Taylor said that while a majority of students fell within the normal range, the system would continue to insure all students received every opportunity to be as healthy as possible. He conceded local data mirrors health trends nationally and across the state.
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little requested the group take a second measurement in the fall of next year to again see how students compare.
“What we struggle with is instructional time is very important and it is limited to begin with,” added Taylor. “We are considering adding activities prior to the first bell ringing in the morning, and we will continue to look for ways for our students to be active and involved throughout the day.”
The work of Director of School Nutrition Elke Boyd and her staff at providing healthy dietary options was praised by the board.
Boyd said the schools’ menus were in compliance with state nutritional standards. Deep fryers have been removed from the high school so all French fries, for instance, are baked. She also explained that the system has a contract with Domino’s to provide whole-wheat pizza as a healthy option for students.
Boyd also said the system has increased the amount of fruits and vegetables available between breakfast and lunch to five servings and has increased the amount of green, leafy vegetables from a half cup to one cup portions. Additionally, fresh fruits and vegetables are provided every day.
“This is more effort, but the kids are loving the fresh fruits,” said Boyd. “Our menu is more colorful which means there are more vitamins and minerals in the food.” She also indicated that the system’s menus include only 10 grams of saturated fats in an item with no trans fats in the menu choices. Water also is offered at breakfast and lunch for all grades free of charge.
According to information supplied by SHAC, 64 percent of boys at Tharrington and 58 percent of girls were within the normal BMI index of the Center for Disease Control. A total of 18 percent of students at Tharrington were greater than the 95th percentile for obese. The total percentage of students less than the fifth percentile for being underweight was three percent.
At Jones Intermediate, 60 percent of boys and 55 percent of girls fall within the normal BMI range with a total of 58 percent falling in the normal range. A total of 22 percent were greater than the 95th percentile for obese. A total of three percent are less than the fifth percentile for under weight.
At the middle-school level, a total of 67 students were tested.
A total of 34 eighth-grade boys at Mount Airy Middle School were within the healthy range for BMI with 15 within the obese range and three within the underweight range. A total of 42 eighth-grade girls were in the healthy range with 12 in the obese category and four underweight.
A total of 32 boys were in the healthy range in the seventh grade with 15 within obese and one underweight out of 60 tested. Among seventh-grade middle school girls, 21 ranked within the healthy range with eight obese and none within the underweight range out of 44 students tested.
Among sixth-grade boys at the middle school, 35 were within the healthy range, 22 were obese and one was within the underweight range. A total of 36 sixth-grade girls were within the healthy range with 21 obese and one in the underweight range.
A total of 52 ninth-graders at Mount Airy High School were within the normal range with 17 obese and 16 within the underweight range.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.