A sweeping West Virginia law requiring schools to increase physical education time for students and restricting access to sugary drinks has received its first systematic look by a research team at West Virginia University.

Reactions are mixed: More than 40 percent of schools lacked the resources to put all of the Healthy Lifestyles Act’s requirements in place, researchers found. At the same time, principals overwhelmingly support the law, saying it has prompted school staffs to commit to more physical activity and promote healthier eating habits among students.

Drew Bradlyn, Ph.D., and Carole Harris, Ph.D. – both professors of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry and directors of the Health Research Center at the WVU School of Medicine – presented their findings before an invited audience in the West Virginia House of Delegates chamber Tuesday, Feb. 10.

“This has been such an important step forward for the state, and the fact that there is so much support for the act in the schools is really wonderful,” Harris said. “Do we have some deficiencies? Yes. Do we have some areas for improvement? Yes. But it’s a huge step forward.”

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