Minds are vast receptacles, and kids go to school to fill them with knowledge, wonder and adventure.

But they fill something else at school, their mouths and bodies, and, unfortunately, what they ingest is not always good for them.

A comprehensive study, recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides good news and bad news on the nutrition front for kids.

The good news is that french fries, along with other types of junk food, are harder to find in school cafeterias these days, with the number of schools that serve fries having dropped from 40 percent to 19 percent during the past six years.

The bad news is that schools could do a better job of encouraging healthy habits among students, the study noted.

”We're not satisfied,” Howell Weschsler, an official with the CDC, told the Associated Press. ”We still have a long, long way to go, but it is encouraging.”

If it is encouraging to health officials, it should be encouraging to parents as well, for it is important that youngsters nourish their bodies as well as their minds.

While positive signs abound, the challenges are formidable, with 17 percent of U.S. children suffering from obesity, according to the study.

If schools do not continue their diligence, both through cafeteria menus and physical education programs, the crisis will worsen.

”We're really at the early phases of trying to counter what right now could be the most pervasive health problem that ever hit the United States,” David Appel, a pediatrician in New York, told the news service.

His words should serve notice to both schools and parents our youngsters will face a grim future if we do not act now.

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San Antonio Express-News