The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 20% of children aged 6-19 are overweight or obese. That’s roughly three times higher than it was thirty years ago. The negative effects on children due to this epidemic are poor health and low self-esteem. This increase also places a burden on our health care system as the problem extends beyond current capacity.
Nobody is pointing the finger here. The root of the childhood obesity epidemic does not lie solely upon the schools. Parents, food suppliers, the health care system and even our government are just as guilty for allowing the health of our children to degenerate into what it is today. Thus, it will take a group effort from all facets of society remembering the simplicities of yesteryear in order to overcome.
Schools across America are making changes to their cafeteria menus to combat this growing concern. Campus administrators are requiring vending machine distributors to remove junk food items from their lists and replace them with healthier alternatives. Some schools have removed vending machines altogether. They have even gone so far as to educate parents on the importance of providing healthy foods to their children at home. On all levels, from kindergarten through the twelfth grade, nutrition courses have been implemented to promote the idea that children and students are to arrive at school with healthy minds and bodies.
Further health education topics are being added to the curriculum in schools. These added topics include dealing with weight issues improperly. Statistics show that more adolescent and teenage girls today who are concerned about their weight chose to take up smoking to curb their appetite than 30 years ago. The same percentage of youths takes up other eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.
Physical education has always been a requirement for students. Every student is supposed to have a minimum of 45 minutes a day of physical activity, yet the obesity problem continues to rise. As youths become less physically active, a larger number of them are incapable of performing some of the routine exercises in class. Due to the epidemic, schools today are putting a larger than ever focus on physical training encouraging kids to stay active.
Laying the entire burden onto schools to solve this problem is unfair. Every person from teachers, faculty and parents to business owners and government is capable of contributing to the cure for this plague. The more attention this problem gets, the larger our forces against it becomes.
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