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Childhood Obesity And Public Schools Essay

2046 words - 9 pages

Childhood Obesity and What Public Schools Can Do to Help

In the past 20 years, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in children between the ages of 6 and 11 to 18.8% and more than tripled for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 to 17.1 %. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007) Sadly, this trend is still on the rise. Childhood obesity is a strong predictor of adult obesity and is a precursor for many health problems. There are many ways that American can help combat childhood obesity, such as encouraging exercise or sports, not keeping junk food in the house, controlling how often and where you eat out, and limiting television and computer time. Though, the ...view middle of the document...

(National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2007) Obesity has been linked to asthma, which can affect a child’s activity level, furthering the problem and overall health in general. Children that are overweight are also at greater risk for sleep apnea. These breathing pauses during sleep can severely disrupt a child’s memory building and logical thinking process. Orthopedic problems are also prevalent among obese children since a body’s developing bones and cartilage cannot support the excess weight. Mobility problems, weakened bones, arthritis, leg bowing, and a much greater risk for later osteoporosis can emerge. Perhaps the greatest health problems are in the mind though. Consider the emphasis the media and entertainment world put on looking slim and fit while advertisers spend millions of dollars, often using slim and fit celebrities, promoting fatty cheeseburgers, soft drinks, and unhealthy snack food. This can be confusing to adults, so of course these mixed messages confuse our children. Children try to hold themselves to the extremely high standards set forth by the media and still eat the unhealthy foods, but in reality this contradicts itself and the children gain weight. Children that are overweight tend to develop more eating disorders because of their body image and develop more anxiety orders due to the comments and actions of others because of their weight. They also have a much greater rate of depression, which often leads to eating comfort foods which only make matters worse.
The first and perhaps the most important step to combat obesity is better health and fitness education. And not just for students, but also for educators so that children can always have a source of information about health. Teachers spend nearly a third of each weekday with our children. During that time, teachers can have great influence on a child, and promoting healthy eating and fitness can go a long way. Also, informed educators can help to counsel children that need it, such as overweight kids that are afraid to discuss their weight problems with their parents. In many schools across the nation, health classes have had their time cut down or done away with altogether in order to support more structured curriculums. Even 30 minutes a day of health studies in a classroom, which is 15 minutes less than the national average of 1990, can help to improve kid’s eating and fitness habits. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007) This is not only due to the actual knowledge gained from the lessons, but also because of the advertising effect. This works just like television commercials for fast food or video games, seeing or hearing about health issues will make a child think about health more often it and be more aware of it. This is why something as simple as hanging health related posters up around the school can help children become more health conscious. Also, schools could offer classes for parents in order to teach...

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