health

Helping Future Generations

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Child Eating McDonalds, Unattributed

This photograph emphasizes the common stereotype that fast food is causing obesity in American children. This image displays two young boys, who are overweight eating McDonalds.   While obesity rates are growing in the U.S, educating American children in school could help instill healthy eating habits and improve society’s health.

As obesity has transformed from a problem to an epidemic in the United States, and prevention appears to be the most effective solution, future obesity rates could be reduced by implementing programs at schools that focus on promoting the importance of nutrition and fitness in younger generations.

Publicizing information about nutrition and fitness in school environments would be beneficial. School environments have become a place that promotes physical inactivity and increased consumption of unhealthy food.  “Focusing on this environment will help increase awareness to children at a young age in order for them to stay informed of the importance of nutrition and exercise” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  It would further educate students on current obesity-related problems, encouraging them to make healthy lifestyle choices. If young children are exposed to issues on obesity and are aware of the importance of remaining healthy, future obesity rates are predicted to decrease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  In order for school programs to be most effective, a focus must be placed on prevention.  Despite the improvements that still need to be made, several schools around the country are beginning to take action.

This school in particular has already seen compelling improvements in their students’ health.  The principal has made an active effort to set aside time each day to focus on the children’s fitness and nutrition. These two factors have been proven to be advantageous in preventing obesity. Because of the progress this school has made, they have earned national recognition. Programs similar to this one could be beneficial in other schools around the country. It has the potential to help prevent obesity rates from further perpetuating. Due to the fact that students spend a large amount of time at school, school environments affect the way children develop habits around healthy lifestyle choices.

“The school food environment has the potential to have a large impact on children’s and adolescents’ diets because they consume a substantial proportion (between 19 and 50 percent) of their total daily calories at school” (Story, Nanney, and Schwatz  73).  Keeping this in consideration, children do not have their parents there to monitor what they eat while at school. Despite the fact that parents may try to teach their children to make healthy eating choices, children are often inclined to follow their peers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  If unhealthy food choices are easily accessible, commonly consumed, and cheap in nature, it is likely students will take advantage of the unhealthy options due to the convenience and cost.

School food choices can be split into two different sections: federal lunch and breakfast programs, and foods and beverages sold outside the formal meal plan, such as those in vending machines. The latter of the two sections is commonly known as competitive foods because they compete with the nutritionally regulated school programs. A direct correlation has been recognized between competitive foods and obese students; the more competitive foods readily available results in a higher number of overweight students.  “33 percent of elementary schools, 71 percent of middle schools, and 89 percent of high schools had a vending machine, school store, canteen, or snack bar where students could purchase food or beverages” (Story, Nanney, and Schwatz 73). Although eliminating competitive food completely has previously resulted in complications, a high percentage of parents believe schools in particular must find alternative solutions that improve the health of their children.

An experiment was conducted that found parents cited schools more often than health care providers. These parents believe it is the schools responsibility to reduce obesity. “Up to 65% of parents feel schools should play a major role in efforts to curb obesity. The majority of US children are schooled outside the home, thus the education system provides an established infrastructure for targeted implementation of childhood public health interventions. Schools offer access to children, the facilities requisite for classroom or physical education interventions, and the personnel capable of being involved in such efforts” (Kropski, Keckley and Jenson) The ideal school based prevention program would reduce obesity rates in future generations by facilitating permanent improvements in nutrition and fitness. Prevention has shown to be the most cost effective and efficient option; this makes it evident that prevention programs have the most potential to improve obesity rates in children and future generations (Kropski, Keckley and Jenson).

Obesity is continuing to grow at an uncontrollable rate in the U.S. Implementing prevention programs in schools that educate young students of the importance of nutrition and fitness has the potential to decrease future obesity rates. These programs alone may not fully fix the rising issue of obesity, but it is a start.  “While the schools alone cannot solve the childhood obesity epidemic, it also is unlikely that childhood obesity rates can be reversed without strong school-based policies and programs to support healthy eating and physical activity” (Story, Nanney, and Schwatz 72). As the stereotype of the “lazy Americans” is continuously perpetuated, it seems evident that obesity needs to be addressed before the quality of life for millions of Americans needlessly declines.

Bibliography

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and Overweight. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

Kropski, Jonathan,  Paul Keckley, and Gordon Jensen.  “School-based Obesity Prevention Programs: An Evidence-based Review” Wiley Online Library: Obesity A Research Journal 16.5 (2008): 1009-1018. Web 20 Oct. 2013.

Story, Mary, Marilyn Nanney, and  Marlene Schwatz. “Schools and Obesity Prevention: Creating School Environments and Policies to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity.” Milbank Quarterly 87.1 (2009): 71-100. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

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The Concussion Secret

Athletes preform to the best of their ability each and every game and practice pushing their limits. Sometimes they push themselves too far, and it can result in serious injury. Thousands of athletes each year suffer from injuries to the brain.

Athletes preform to the best of their ability each and every game and practice pushing their limits; sometimes pushing themselves too far resulting in serious injury. Thousands of athletes each year fail to report suffering from injury to the brain.

Concussions have created controversy worldwide as a serious issue over the last couple decades. Some people have a deep understand of what it means to be concussed and others have no idea. A concussion, according to the MayoClinic is defined as “A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination.” Now, you tell me, do you think that a concussions is something to be ignored and overlooked like most athletes do?

Athletes commonly endure concussions but keep it a secret so they are able to keep playing. Each athlete has their own reason for overlooking a concussion; however, there are two main reason in particular that professional athletes ignore signs of serious brain trauma. The two main reasons include, influences from peers and coaches as well as lack of knowledge about returning to sport after a concussion.

Professional athletes have a stereotype that includes them being strong and tough. Many athletes are fearful that if they report their concussion, their reputation will be altered. Some athletes, including Jason Short of the Philadelphia Eagles, have stepped forward in saying that they failed to report their concussion only because they did not want to be looked at as “soft,” to the rest of their teammates and fans. Short told reporter, Josiah Schlatter, that he and another team members thought that if they “reported every ding and every concussion, you were soft”(Schiatter, Bettis 2011). Short also stated that once he became more educated about concussions, he realized that the outcome of hiding a concussion was no where near worth the long-term effects and alterations to the brain that concussions cause (Schiatter, Bettis 2011).

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Being a professional athlete means living and breathing your sport. Coaches pick each player to be on their team because of the consistent effort and skill that they put into the game. The team as a whole is dependent on each player which is why athletes are fearful that if they cannot preform to their best ability then they may get cut from the team. Coaches themselves try to overlook when their athlete has a concussion, because they need each player to be present, this why where the idea that players come up with about being cut originates from. If a coach wants the athlete to overlook a concussion then that is what they must do. Athletes are scared to go against their coaches wishes because in turn that might mean getting cut from the team and sport they love most.

A recent study stated “only 17% of colligate athletes reported having concussions; however, 48% reported sustaining a head injury that was followed by the key symptoms of concussions, which include, headache, dizziness, loss of balance, and blurred vision,” (Meehan, Mannix, O’Brien, & Collins 2013). The evidence supports that athletes are ignoring their concussions by continuing to play even when they are experiencing symptoms. Most of the time, a player would stop playing and let their head heal, especially if their coach encouraged them. Evidence would suggest that many coaches are not encouraging healing time for the brain.  

Athletes are known for returning to a sport quickly after receiving a concussion, and not taking the necessary precautions that are important when overcoming a concussion. Recovering from a concussion is different for everyone, as Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, MD, Director of Michigan NeuroSport stated; “each athlete may experience his/her concussion differently. Because concussions may affect each athlete differently, sports medicine professionals need to treat each athlete uniquely and not automatically follow a set protocol” (Carter 2013). Even though there is no set procedure for treating a concussion, most of the helpful ways and precautions that must be taken to start feeling better are the same. The most important step in recovering is to give your brain a break. The brain needs rest in order to heal; this means that all physical activity has to be cut out.

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It is also important to see a doctor about discussing the symptoms that one is experiencing and to track recovery progress. Once the patient has stopped experiencing all symptoms they should follow a five-step protocol before returning to their normal sport. The five steps include; light aerobic exercise, sport specific exercise, non-contact training drills, full-contact practice, and then finally they can return to competition (Carter 2013). These steps are crucial to follow when recovering because there is a huge shift in the brain when going from no physical activity to all of a sudden lots. If any symptoms resurface while completing these steps, the previous stepped should be completed again after at least 24 hours. It is crucial for athletes to follow these steps before returning to their sport because they need to make sure that they are fully healed.

It is common that athletes get concussions from contact sports and continue to play because they do not understand the seriousness. Players are influenced by their coaches and teammates. Coaches overlook concussions because they expect each player to preform at their best at all times, even when they are feeling under the weather. Athletes go along with coaches because they are afraid that they will be cut from the team. They are influenced by their teammates because they fear to be looked down upon. Recovering from a concussion takes time, which is something that people ignore; athletes go back to sports quickly without taking the necessary actions towards recovering fully. Efforts need to be increased to ensure that athletes are aware of the seriousness of concussions. Athletes need to take responsibility for their health, and garner a greater understanding of how to handle a concussion.

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References

Carroll, Linda, and & David Rosner. The Concussion Crisis. New York: Simon &
Schuster, 2011. Print.

Carter, Tom. Sportsmd: Heath=Performance. 10 October. 2013. Web. November
2013.  http://www.sportsmd.com/#sthash.oj5gs4Jy.dpbs

“Concussion Cartoon.” iPhysio Perth. Practiceedge, 19 Nov. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2013. http://iphysioperth.com.au/news/sports-physiotherapy-for-common-athletics-injuries/

“League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.” Frontline. PBS Video. 8 Oct. 2013.
Television. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/

Meehan, William, Rebekah Mannix, Michael O’Brien, and Michael Collins. “The
Prevalence of Undiagnosed Concussions in Athletes.” Clinical Journal of Sports
Medicine. Wolters Kluwer Health, Sept. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. http://journals.lww.com/cjsportsmed/pages/viewallmostemailedarticles.aspx

Noel, Michael Anthony. “Journal Star.” Journal Star. Gatehouse Media, 21 Aug. 2013.
Web. 1 Dec. 2013. http://www.pjstar.com/x1155153670/States-adopting-laws-but-politics-money-key-to-national-policy

Schiatter, Josiah. Interview with Jerome Bettis. NBC Sports. 2011. Web. 2 November.
2013. http://www.nbcsports.com

What is a Concussion. Brain 101: The Concussion Playbook. ORCAS, 2011. Web. 1 Dec.
2013.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5hlm3FRFYU

Childhood Obesity: Who’s to Blame?

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More and more children are becoming obese… What’s the reason?

The spike in weight gain that the current generation of children is experiencing is the fault of parents because they influence what their children eat, how often they exercise, and what values they have.

The life expectancy of each consecutive generation has been steadily climbing upward, until now. In some areas, up to a third of children are obese and the majority of them will grow into obese adults, which will lead to younger deaths. But do we blame our current society for making it easy to be inactive or making unhealthy food also the cheapest, most convenient food? No. Parents are those who should care the most about their child’s quality of life and life expectancy but recent studies show how detrimental parent’s actions can be to their children’s health.

Obesity in a child is directly linked to how he was raised because from a child’s first breath to the moment he reaches independence, parents are responsible for developing his eating habits. It is important to begin fostering proper nutrition early because people develop their food preferences and their general patterns of eating early on in childhood. Children are more likely to eat foods that they are exposed repeatedly early on in life (Lindsay 171). Parents need to realize that the foods and drinks their children are exposed to will remain embedded in their subconscious and affect their likelihood of being healthy.

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Monitoring food choices is not only important in the first few years but parents also have the responsibility of maintaining a healthy household until the child leaves the nest. In order to prevent weight gain, parents should limit the times they go out to dinner or order fast food and pizza. Unhealthy food should be limited and healthy low calorie snacks should be made readily available to kids of all ages. When kids come to the age where they have to eat meals at school, parents can pack them a healthy nutritious lunch rather than the convenient route of handing them 5 dollars and hoping they don’t spend it all on cookies.

Similarly to their responsibility to foster good nutrition, parents need to promote physical activity in their child’s life. Some may assume that it is part of the child’s personality, their natural likes and dislikes, if they enjoy being active. This is proven false by studies that show children are more likely to be active if their parents are (O’dea 300). Young children don’t know what exercise is or how to be active so they are fully relying on the responsible adults in their lives to promote safe opportunities for physical activity (Hills 54).

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Parents who are active are more likely to have kids that are active as well.

If physical activity doesn’t seem like a factor in preventing obesity, read into the many studies that prove “physical activity is associated with lowering risks of accelerated weight gain and excess adiposity among preschool aged children” (Lindsay 172). Having a proven, studied method of prevention for a disease and then not utilizing it to its fullest potential is a reason that their children are growing wider. If exercise is a normal part of a child’s life, they will forever keep making good choices to protect that body. Parents however are main promoters of exercise and if they fail to do so, their children will have a greater risk of becoming obese.

In addition to simply enforcing how to eat and exercise, parents must also be role models in every aspect of health. One study showed that the likeliness that a child would be active increased when both of his parents were also active (Lindsay 172). When a whole family becomes involved in a fitness program, the changes are easier to make because the child will have endless outlets of support to turn to (Hills 154). Parents and older role models can greatly impact the life decisions that a child makes, and proven by studies, children will have a greater desire to be active if their role models are too.

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Parents use television and video games as free babysitters.

Parents who are inactive can have the same effect. When parents watch two or more hours of TV a day, their children are twice as likely to be inactive than in families where parents make watching TV a special treat (Lindsay 173). Parents shouldn’t let children have TV’s in their bedrooms, however the majority of parents see TV as a free babysitter and a way to easily entertain their children with little effort so many are putting TV’s in their children’s rooms. About 68% of children have a television in their bedroom (Lindsay 174). Excessive TV viewing has been linked to weight gain so parents should be enforcing rules that limit screen time among their children.

Nutritionally, parents should practice what they preach in order for their children to latch on to the healthy behaviors they need to avoid becoming obese. A child will eat what and how their parents eat.

If a child notices that his dad grabs a snack every time he sits down in front of the TV, the child will do the same probably for his whole life. If a child notices that his parents eat heaping portions of “bad” foods, the child will know that this is normal and he will try to do the same to be like his parents.

Ultimately, if parents can establish healthy eating habits and a love for physical activity while also practicing the rules they preach, childhood obesity can be avoided. Hopefully parents will become enlightened with the knowledge that it is their fault that their children are becoming obese and once they accept that, they can take the necessary measures to reverse the epidemic and prevent it from happening again.

Works Cited:

Hills, Andrew (Editor), Neil King (Editor) and Nuala Byrne (Editor). Children, Obesity and Exercise. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Lindsay, Ana C. “The Role of Parents in Preventing Childhood Obesity”. The Future of Children, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 169-186. Princeton University Spring, 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

O’dea, Jennifer (Editor), and Michael Eriksen (Editor). Childhood Obesity Prevention: International Research, Controversies and Interventions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Images:

http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/kty/lowres/ktyn197l.jpg

http://www.steadyhealth.com/130837/Image/obesity_child.jpg

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http://medicineworld.org/images/blogs/9-2009/obese-boy.jpg

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Childhood Obesity

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This cartoon of a boy has stereotypes of the American child that certainly don’t apply to every 10 year-old boy living in this country. However, childhood obesity is a huge problem today. It has been predicted that the generation of children today are likely to die at a younger age than their parents will, due to not enough physical activity and too much unhealthy food being shoveled into their mouths.

The fast-food cup in the boy’s left hand is most likely filled with a sugary soft drink that he refilled twice at Burger King. Based on the size of this child’s stomach, his first choice at the fountain drink machine probably isn’t ice water or crystal light lemonade. The controller in the other hand indicates that he isn’t about to play outside with his friends on the jungle gym or play pickup basketball at the middle school. Children today are far more interested in playing indoor activities such as video games or even just wasting their day away surfing the Internet. Either way, this boy is consuming many calories and the only ones he burns off are the ones he uses to turn the TV and the Nintendo on, and then a few more from moving the joystick around.

His big glassy confused eyes and gaping mouth indicate that he probably is not at the top of the class and it can be assumed that he doesn’t know what is going on in the real world once the games and the food are out of the way. I’m sure he goes to school, based on national laws that require children to attend school, but he probably doesn’t pay much attention unless it’s lunchtime. Unhealthy foods are proven to negatively impact the ability of children to focus and get good grades in school. Lack of physical activity also hurts the brain’s ability to function.

The most noticeable aspect of the image is the bulging unsightly tummy protruding between blue jeans and a tiny american flag tee shirt. If his weight and size don’t decrease soon, this child is doomed to have a life full of health complications both physically and mentally. Childhood obesity is a problem in the United States and more parents need to get on board with eating healthy meals and being more active.