Medical Advice: Back-to-school tips and the 5-2-1-0 program

AS STUDENTS and families prepare to return to school, the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) would like to take this opportunity to remind them to take the proper steps to stay healthy this school year. Good health is important for students in order to maintain regular school attendance and be ready to learn.

Students who practice good healthy habits tend to perform better in school and are better able to reach their full potential. Health risks, such as unhealthy eating and little or no physical activity, are consistently linked to poor grades and lower test scores.

A great way to avoid these health risks is to develop healthy habits, such as maintaining a nutritious diet and increasing physical activity. FDOH Polk introduces its prescription for healthier, active living with the 5-2-1-0 program. This program is designed to encourage children and families to adapt a healthier lifestyle with simple and healthier choices.

By practicing these habits daily, individuals are making the healthy choice the easy choice and creating a healthier lifestyle that will last a lifetime.

Of course, students can do well in school only if they feel healthy enough to attend. There are other important steps children and families should take to reduce the number of sick days a student has.

First, be sure to keeps hands washed. Keeping hands clean helps reduce the spread of germs and diseases that are easily transmitted in schools. Washing hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water is a great way to reduce one’s chances of catching whatever illnesses may be going around.

Secondly, get vaccinated. Vaccines are crucial to keeping students well. Make sure a student’s vaccinations are up to date. Once flu shots are available, it is important to get them as soon as possible.

So here’s the first homework assignment for the school year: Be sure to include healthy habits daily, such as those listed in the 5-2-1-0 program. Make a choice to start the school year off right by eating healthy and staying active. Also, remember to practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently and getting students properly vaccinated for the school year. These healthy practices will help children and families make the most of this school year.


5-2-1-0 encourages children and families to:

  • 5 — Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables every day
  • 2 — Limit screen time to 2 hours or less per day. Screen time includes TV, computers, video games, smart phones, computer tablets, etc.
  • 1 — Get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day. Make time to be active.
  • 0 — Drink fewer sugar-sweetened drinks. Try water and fat-free milk for children age two years and older.


article by DR. ULYEE CHOE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Ulyee Choe, an infectious disease physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) and as a Polk County Medical Association member. For more information about FDOH-Polk, visit

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