Nutrition

Helping Future Generations

Image

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.

<a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/”><img alt=”Creative Commons License” style=”border-width:0″ src=”http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-nd/4.0/88×31.png&#8221; /></a><br />This work is licensed under a <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/”>Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License</a>.

Childhood Obesity: Who’s to Blame?

Image

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.

1480387529_a40480725b

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).

102740072.jpg

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.

fatkid

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

http://api.ning.com/files/Cq6BfEXzuVCJZEQPslkRfNqBdawBT2p1TBt7w4QMDI0wRpP1JLieEtEc*f-Jz0H45MaKWYJ8DEAcbud0c3SBy7w36Tcl5-fo/108696268.jpg?width=275

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

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Desperate Times Call for Drastic Measures

Hungry African Male. Digital image. First Praxis. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2012. .

This image demonstrates the extreme issue of hunger and starvation occurring in Africa.

This image features an African boy. He is the focal point of the image since his body takes up the most space and his skin color is darker than the objects around him. The camera catches him from the side. His arms are extended out in front of him, holding onto the sides of a cow’s rear. The boy’s left hand is holding the cow’s tail out of the way so that his mouth can be pressed firmly against the cow’s behind. His right leg is bent out in front of him, while he puts his pressure on his left leg. His back is hunched and bent over. His neck is bent back, with his face firmly pressed into the cow. The boy appears to be standing on dirt ground. He is unclothed, completely naked and covered in filth. The boy is extremely thin (skin and bones). In the background, there are a few other large animals resting on the ground. Closer to the boy and the cow is a pile of cow manure.

From viewing the image, it can be interpreted that the African boy is hoping to catch the excrements of the cow into his mouth. By looking at the boy’s physical state (skin and bones), he appears to be extremely malnourished. By looking at his body language (lunged forward/face pressed against the cow), he appears to really want what the cow has. Therefore, it can be interpreted that the boy is so hungry that he desperately wants to eat cow excrements. If the boy were disgusted by having to resort to this act, which most people would be, he might be sitting under the cow with an angry or disgusted look on his face. Or, he may be sitting near the pile of manure, picking at it. Clearly the boy is starving from looking at his drastic lunge into the cows behind. Since the boy is naked and covered in dirt, one can interpret that he has no belongings and has no way of cleaning himself. These factors emphasis the seriousness of the boy’s desperate situation and how alone he must be that no one is caring for him. This source of nutrition is an absolute last resort for anyone, which makes the viewer feel for what the African boy has to go through for his own survival. The fact that he must eat cow excrements for a chance at survival should make viewers realize the extremity of the prevalent issue of hunger in Africa.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.