My "Big Idea" Class Project Paper...How to Solve Childhood Obesity
Unit 6 Invention Lab – Parents and Schools Working to Combat Childhood Obesity
Childhood Obesity is a topic that has to be addressed at the community level, with families and schools needing to take part in creating effective solutions, for it to be finally defeated. Lifestyle, diet, and exercise are the 3 key ways that must be engaged in equally to solve this growing epidemic. In the U.S. one out of every three children are considered overweight (Gavin, 2012). The lessor known risk for childhood obesity include low self-esteem, being bullied, developing unhealthy eating habits like bulimia and anorexia, and many others that simple studies can’t measure. The Big Idea will introduce how schools and parents working together will both combat this epidemic and prove financially beneficial in boosting the local economy. The Big Idea will provide the blueprint in solving childhood obesity without blaming people or pointing fingers; but by showing how a community synergy that includes parents and schools, the two largest influences in a child’s life, can put an end to this growing epidemic.
Childhood obesity is when a child is significantly above their normal weight, or BMI for their age/weight ("Definition of childhood," 2012). Problems that develop from childhood obesity are such as, but not limited to: Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues, breathing difficulties, sleep apnea and many others. Previously, these were poor health conditions that used to be strictly an adult only problem. To help combat this epidemic, key factors and their impact on childhood obesity should be examined.
Food choices can impact childhood obesity in both a positive and a negative way. As being seen now, poor food choices (high in saturated fat, empty calories, sugars, etc.) severely negatively impact childhood obesity because it adds to it, along with lack of exercise. Proper food choices can impact childhood obesity by combatting it from ground zero, inside the body of the children. Proper food choices, combined with the proper knowledge of why these choices are important, help keep the body doing things like producing the correct levels of insulin, the right amount of cholesterol, and the right amount metabolism fat burning process. Food impact alone can help to combat childhood obesity, but not solve it in the long run.
Exercise will impact childhood obesity by helping the body do what it does naturally. Bodies burn fat, process waste and pump blood naturally, childhood obesity disrupts these natural functions. Exercise would help teach children how to enjoy life and get bodies moving. Exercise and food are two key ways to combat childhood obesity and can be heavily influenced by home life.
Family habits impact childhood obesity because no matter what plans is intact for someone to try and beat obesity, life at home must help supplement this healthy lifestyle change for the child. Children don’t buy groceries; parents do, and must use that power of influence to pick healthy alternatives for snacks like fruits and vegetables. Parents should not buy overly sweetened drinks, as well as limit the amount of times when eating out. Eating in front of the TV is another factor that will not help children overcome childhood obesity, so families should eat at the dinner table together to help teach children a proper relationship with food.
Eating a healthy breakfast is not only important to combat childhood obesity, but it is vital. Breakfast helps to energize children for the morning, and keep them going with sustained energy, getting them ready for the day ahead. A proper breakfast consisting of things like fiber, unsaturated fats, or lean protein will help reduce caloric intake in a child, helping to boost the body’s ability to lose weight (Quinene, 2011). With most of these suggestions, the key is family.
Childhood obesity tends to run in families because children are mirrors to what is happening at home. If parents aren’t active, then it is unrealistic to expect children to do what their parents don’t. If parents get and stay active, children will follow suit. This will go a long way to combat childhood obesity. Obesity runs in the family based on whatever the parents choose to do or not to do. With all of the focus on parents, the other part of the synergy union is the influence of schools.
Currently, schools are adding to the problem of childhood obesity by not providing better food choices for children. Vending machines filled with empty calorie, overly sugary, saturated fatty choices, not only deny proper nutrition to children, but actually are counterproductive to the learning atmosphere of what school is intended to be. School lunches are not any better with the processed, frozen, fried options that are provided to children for children to sustain them in the middle of their day. Some schools are even reporting that children are eating fast food for lunch at least twice a week ("Childhood obesity: Half," 2012). Poor nutrition options are not the only causes that are contributing to childhood obesity.
Schools have also added to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity by cutting physical activity, such as P.E. or even some sports, due to budget cuts. If the benefits of physical activity, in the long term for children, were truly explored and reported, then school officials would realize cutting it out of the curriculum is just like cutting out core learning classes. A community garden would not only reintroduce physical activity to schools, but it would help educate children on proper nutrition as well as where their food comes from.
Families and schools must work together to solve childhood obesity because we have seen so far that when they work apart, or blame each other, childhood obesity has grown to the national epidemic. By working together, the two biggest influences in a child’s life, can build a network of nutritional knowledge, love of physical activity, and positive reinforcement that will not only yield positive strides to combat childhood obesity, but provide financial benefits to the community as well. The lynchpin in all of this really focuses around meals being served to the children, both at home and at school.
It is imperative that schools develop healthier lunches because of a two-sided reason: 1) The damage that the empty caloric, fried-than-flash-frozen, processed, high sodium continues to do to children; 2) The short and long term benefits that proper nutrition has over school aged children. Children who follow the path of proper nutrition tend to develop both positive physical and emotional characteristics, such as: stronger bones, healthy weight, positive self-image, more mentally alert in school (Coila, 2011). One surefire, guaranteed way of making sure children are fed nutritional lunches, is to implement a community garden that would be tended to, with supervision, by these same children.
Having a community garden would cut down on the absurd spending that schools are paying for quality food to be processed and shipped to them. No one keeps track of how much is spent on schools processing perfectly good food, but school officials do keep track of it. In Michigan, their education department gets raw chicken for free, worth $11.40 a case and then pays to have it processed into fried chicken nuggets, costing $33.45 a case. In San Bernardino, CA, schools spend $14.74 on French fries out of $5.95 worth of fresh potatoes (Komisar, 2011). It is easy to see how money, even spent on hiring skilled lunchroom workers, once a school kitchen goes back to actually preparing food, would save large amounts of money that would have an immediate positive economic impact. Now, as mentioned in the beginning of this paper, there is another component to solving childhood obesity.
For parents to be successful in their part in this battle with childhood obesity, just like their children, they gain nutritional knowledge about the food that is in the house, in the store and more importantly, on the table. In proper meal planning and cooking, parents are given the ability to take back the empowering feeling of the knowledge they have prepared a great tasting and nutritionally beneficiary meal for the family. Parents are both a role model for children in how and what to eat, but they also control what is bought for the household (Coila, 2011). Also helping to provide education on those easily swayed fast food commercials will provide children with the proper insight when they are out and pass the familiar golden arches or hamburger royalty.
Sports are an organized and structured way to get children doing what is natural to them: move. With schools cutting back or even eliminating P.E., and some team sports, it is imperative, now more than ever, that schools and parents, the community, get children moving again. More than the health benefits, studies show that children who participate in sports perform better academically as well ("High school athletes," 2001).
Schools and parents working together, combatting childhood obesity will succeed if they start and continue to engage in open and honest dialogue. This union would benefit the most precious victims of childhood obesity, the children themselves. Schools working to get their food from local farms instead of paying for empty calorie to be transported to them would save money with less travel costs and would generate a rise in the local economy. Having a community garden would help to educate children and families on how proper nutrition is both a financially feasible, but a fun solution. This synergic approach will take the focus away from looking for whom to blame and bring solutions giving children back what they deserve: better quality of life.
Gavin, M. (2012, February). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/overweight_obesity.html
Definition of childhood obesity. (2012, May 4). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childhood-obesity/DS00698/
Quinene, P. (2011, January 29). Can healthy eating help childhood obesity?. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/369124-can-healthy-eating-help-childhood-obesity/
(2012). Childhood obesity: Half of inner-city schoolchildren eating fast food twice a week. International Business Times, Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/ehost/detail?sid=fa1698cd-62b8-4d1d-a03d-e86aca19682f@sessionmgr104&vid=2&hid=108&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==
Coila, B. (2011, May 03). Nutrition facts for kids. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/81032-nutrition-kids/
Komisar, L. (2011, December 3). How the food industry eats your kid's lunch. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/opinion/sunday/school-lunches-and-the-food-industry.html?pagewanted=all
(2001). High school athletes outperform nonathletes again by wide margins in massive statewide academic study. North Carolina high school athletic association, 54(1), 2. Retrieved from http://benefitsofyouthsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/NC-High-School-Athletic-Association-Bulletin-Fall-2001.pdf