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HWCF Goes to School

We all know that kids who exercise benefit healthwise but new studies show that children who get their blood pumping can also improve their performance in school. It's unclear whether the effect is related to self-esteem or if it's more physiological in nature, but according to Ric Jurgens, chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee, children who exercise experienced a 50% improvement in reading skills.

For this and other reasons, it makes sense for members of the food industry to join the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, said Jurgens this morning during an update of the group's progress. Close to his heart is the part of the effort that touches schools to enforce the calories in, calories out message.

As part of an effort sponsored by the Iowa Business Council, kids in 50 schools have gained access to physical fitness resources that otherwise wouldn't be available. The program includes activities like playing baseball and other games on Wii and access to treadmills and other fitness equipment. Jurgens is hopeful that the program that costs about $50,000 per school, will become a template that can be replicated elsewhere.

Kids have already become attached to the program. When Jurgens asked one girl what might happen if it were taken away she said "My grades would drop," but not for the reason you might think. She continued "This calms the boys down and allows me to concentrate in class."

Improvements have also found their way to the other members of these childrens' households. In fact, one mom lost 30 pounds after following the health and wellness guidelines her daughter learned through the program at school.