Morning Joe | March 18, 2013
>>> welcome back to -- well, soon to be neighbors. here with us now, ceo of gen youth foundation, alexis glick and former u.s. surgeon general dr. david satcher . good members of the board. you want to name others. gen youth foundation has a new report out that finds that healthy students are better students. alexis, it makes perfect sense. yet we don't have healthy students.
>> you know, it's interesting as a mother of four kids who got into this a couple years ago. i didn't really understand the science behind what we call the learning connection. and i think that's, you know, it's something i learned very closely from dr. david satcher who wrote a report about the learning connection about seven, eight years ago.
>> 2005 .
>> 2005 . and what it is, there's an impact on a child's ability to learn and the number one impact is that they're nourished and they're physically a lly active. it has an impact on their performance, behavior, attendance. all these issues we hear about each day. you wonder sometimes in this country why it is that we're 25th or 15th in science or math. all of these things add up. you have to have a healthy child in order to be a good academic performer.
>> we're looking at a full screen. that's very interesting. if you look at picture on the left that is what t.j.'s brain scan looks like 24 hours a day .
>> it's actually a preadolescent child. same thing. good point.
>> to the right, obviously, after 20 minutes of walking, you see the brain much more stimulated. again, something that t.j. hasn't seen since he was running away from the authorities. doctor, talk about what we just saw there and the impact that has on children's lives.
>> that's the area of the brain responsible for storing memory. it's really good news to be able to say that when you're physically active , you actually stimulate that area of the brain. children who are physically active learn better. they have better memory. they perform better on standardized examines. especially if you add to that good nutrition. eating breakfast and consuming the right things.
>> so we disagree on many things when it comes to this. mika wants the state to be much more involved regulating sodas, sizes and things. but it seems to me that the state is already involved in educating children. and feeding children with the school lunch program . can't we mandate healthy food? mandate it. then, secondly, don't we have to start mandating more p.e.? because i know when we grew up, in school , you were running around all the time.
>> every day. it wasn't a choice. it wasn't an option.
>> until very recently, the u.s. department of agriculture in providing free lunch and free breakfast was actually providing foods that were not healthy for children.
>> just recently, of course, we do have legislation. healthy and hunger free kids is the name of the legislation in 2010 . that says you not only are able to consume a meal, but it has to have healthy content.
>> what's the quality of that legislation? what's the food that's ending up on kids' plates? because, you know, at one point they were calling ketchup a vegetable.
>> increasingly --
>> ketchup's not a vegetable?
>> low fat milk, fruits and vegetables. you can blend them, of course, together in things like smoothies. whole grain foods. those are the foods that we're really pushing now. and i think those foods will make a difference. not only in the obesity epidemic, but also in the learning.
>> and to your point, joe, i think what's happening is a spotlight is being shown on the school environment. and the reason is, kids are in the school building 180 days a year. it is where they consume 50% of their calories per day. so you have a captive audience in the school building. but what we have to do is we have to direct more resources into the school building. the first thing that's getting cut is access to healthy nutrition. the first thing that's getting cut is access to physical activity . which is why we made an announcement with the first lady just a couple weeks ago, let's move active schools to get more kids out there and moving. it's critical, though, i come from the business world. and the first thing when i stepped into this epidemic that i said to dr. satcher and to some of our partners is, no one of us can do this alone. there's no one size fits all strategy. we have to do this in a collaborative effort together. so we focus largely on bringing the private sector into the conversation. how do we form a public/private partnership where corporate america is brought into the solution with the public sector and takes a business mentality to help solve the problem in the school building? i think that's starting to work.
>> something i've always wondered, my kids in public school in brooklyn have gym once a week.
>> once a week.
>> that's ridiculous.
>> once a week.
>> let me tell you, that's nothing. wait till you see some of the statistics.
>> this sounds so totally uncontroversial that kids should eat healthy and go to the gym. who's against this? is this because there's so much testing that's pushing out the other stuff?
>> we have cut the budgets. many schools do not have physical education teachers. we say that we cannot afford physical education . at the cdc when i was director in 1996 , we did a report on physical activity . and what it showed was that we had cut out physical activity for high school students from 42% beginning in 1990 and even by 1995 it was down to 29%. that's continued to go down. so we're recommending that we return the physical education "k" through 12 and add to that good nutrition. the reason the schools cut out physical education and arts was to help the kids prepare for standardized exams and do better. now we know that was the wrong thing to do.
>> it's asinine. show the t.j. charts. t.j. on the left. active m iive human on the right. you look at that and realize, we all know this intuitively. that if i exercise, my mind is much more alive and ready, like you said, to memorize things, to process things, and to study aggressively. it's so shortsighted. you talk about false economy. you know, we're going to get rid of the pech.e. teachers so we can get another whatever.
>> the elementary and secondary education act which is really the building blocks behind the fact that we want to perform better in school . and i get that. we want to do better on standardized tests . we're not saying it's one or the other. at some schools in the country you're having lunch at 10:30 . at other schools in this country you're having lunch at 2:30. our program is called fuel up to play 60. when i came into this business, i thought, oh, my goodness. america's dairy farmers and the national football league . what an odd pairing but what an incredible pairing who have built this program in schools called fuel up to play 60. we are now in 73,000 schools. there's 100,000 in the elementary and secondary schools .
>> what's the impact?
>> what we're doing is we're giving grants. anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. these grants give schools an opportunity to taste, to his point, yogurt parfaits. whether it's smoothies. to get a salad bar . get the physical activity equipment. create what they call brain breaks right now. what you can see in those health scans, brain scans, maybe what we need to do is just to get up for five minutes in the middle of the class day and move.
>> there is a curriculum like that.
>> five-minute brain breaks can really have an impact.
>> we have to be innovative now about how we do the physical activity . because we don't have the resources, we're told, for physical education teachers. but teachers are being innovative. they're getting kids up during the math class and taking ten minutes.
>> every class. every teacher should do that.
>> i think the biggest message, if i had one message for folks to walk away with, is we all have to play a role. it's the community leaders. it's parents. as a mother, i care deeply about this issue. if i can tell my four kids at home, listen, if you get up and are active for 60 minutes a day, you could be performing at a grade level higher in reading. you could be excelling in math. these are things that our kids need to know , our communities need to know . and we need to get corporate america engaged in the conversation. because this is a health care issue. this is a productivity issue. it's a military issue.
>> this is a major concern.
>> we need to talk.
>> we also need to add hunger is still a problem for many children. children who are hungry don't eat well. they also don't learn well. we still have that problem.
>> we'd love to have you both back. alexis glick and dr. david satcher , thank you so much for what you're doing.
>> thank you, guys, for having us in. we really appreciate it.
>> more information on the report from the genyouth foundation. logon to genyouth fofoundation.org.