Schools advised to toss homemade treats out of class

RALEIGH - It's a tradition: parents plying their kids' classrooms with pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, cupcakes and candy in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

For some parents, festive, home-baked goodies are part of the fun of being a school kid.

"They're in elementary school," said Rose Hollinshead, who has a child at Davis Drive Elementary School in Cary. "They need to have fun. Part of that fun is to have a treat now and then."

For those alarmed about rising childhood obesity, however, a holiday treat from home is an occasion for dietary sin.

An advisory committee of school and community members is urging the Wake County school system to stop allowing unhealthy foods at classroom celebrations and to not allow homemade foods to be served to students. They say as many as half of Wake's schools allow unhealthy food to be served.

"This policy doesn't mean they can't have good food," said Kathy Olevsky, a member of the Wake School Health Advisory Council. "They can have pizzas and hamburgers. There are a lot of things that would make good choices."

Childhood obesity has become a major issue in North Carolina and nationally. North Carolina has the fifth-highest obesity rate of any state among 10- to 17-year-olds, according to "F as in Fat," a 2008 report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. More than 19 percent of North Carolina students in that age range are obese, a condition that can eventually lead to chronic health problems such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

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