Youth Obesity, Nutrition Resources, and Physcial Activity
In the past thirty years, childhood obesity has more than doubled from 7% to 18% in the United States. With many children not getting the proper exercise, nutrition, and education they need there are many reasons why the number have risen, but no one knows a concrete answer or even a concrete solution to this problem. What I hope to accomplish with this commons abundance is not finding the answer to childhood obesity, but to provide information to people that need it. Childhood obesity is such a complex problem, and the families who do not have the access to education, nutrition, and safe exercise opportunities suffer in that they do not know what to do to help a child with obesity, or how to prevent a child from developing obesity. I feel that there are specific areas that see large numbers (higher than the norm) of childhood obesity, and these areas are usually low-income and lack the proper health education for parents and children that could help prevent childhood obesity. The people in these areas are at a disadvantage health-wise due to their location and lack of education. I believe that one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity is the fact that parents are not educated enough in what they should be feeding their children and how much exercise they should be getting. Other factors include the resources for nutrition that are readily available to families, and how expensive the resources are. Health classes in some schools are treated like music, and art; while they help they children learn, they are not considered a necessity, and when budget cuts are brought up, are expendable. When things like referendums do not pass or a school loses state funding, health and gym classes will usually be cut from the curriculum. Only half the students enrolled in grade school nationwide are in some form of gym class, and by the time they are in high school, only a third will take gym class. This single hour of physical activity can be crucial to a child’s health; more than 60 percent of children do not participate in any physical activity throughout the day.
Context within NORA
Nutritious food: Nutrition is one of the keys to starting and preventing weight loss, thus it is a corner stone of preventing and reducing childhood obesity.
Security: Children (especially young children) do not know much about taking care of themselves. Things like getting proper exercise and dieting are not important to them. So educating them and their parents can teach the children and the parents what to do to make sure that the children are getting proper exercise and nutrition
Physical Health: Children who are obese will most likely be obese in the young adult and adult years if something is not done to reverse or prevent it. Obese children lead to obese, unhealthy, inactive adults.
Supportive relationships: Relationships between educators and parents and children can make sure to keep both parties in this process motivated and on track.
Opportunities to learn: It’s obvious that one of my main objectives is to educate people on how to improve their child’s health, and even their health. These opportunities for health education would provide the adults with information needed to get their children the right kind of nutrition and exercise.
Fresh water: Fresh water that people are not afraid to drink or think it tastes bad could make an impact on child obesity. If parents can trust they water they drink, they would be more likely to give it to their children. Bottled water may not be an option because it is expensive, so tap water would be the most obvious choice to focus on.
Land for agriculture: Proper use of agriculture land could yield many nutritious fruits and vegetables. It could also be used for a family garden, which is a great way to save money and eat nutritious fruits and vegetables, without the added hormones and pesticides that are used in some store bought crops.
Domesticated animals: a family pet is a great way for children to get exercise. A new family dog can inspire children to go outside and play, while also improving their overall mood.
Buildings and Structures: The building of playgrounds and public gyms can be very beneficial for a community when trying to tackle a problem like child obesity or just obesity in general. The building of these structures opens up possibilities for activity for children.
Repositories of knowleged: Libraries can hold a plethora of information, whether it is in books or on the internet. It is just another place people can go to get educated about the health of their children.
Information, Knowledge, Values, Concepts: All of this means nothing without the values that come along with wanting a healthier life style for the children and understanding the concepts that go along with it.
Understanding current patterns of abundance and scarcity
Childhood obesity continues to plague many children that live around the globe and the United States. These children have limited access to nutritious food, health education, and safe exercise. Children who do not get the proper nutrition either live in a household that cannot afford it, or one that does not place importance on nutrition due to lack of parental super vision. Children who do not have the proper health education usually live in a district that either cannot afford health education classes or does not place a significant amount of importance on it. Lastly, safe places to exercise also contribute to the problem of childhood obesity. This mostly affects the children that live in poverty in wealthy countries. The levels of inequality in wealthy countries causes poorer families to have to buy food that is cheaper, usually meaning that it is not as nutritious. While the children in poverty have to eat non-nutritious food, the children who come from wealth have the opportunities to eat healthy simply because they can afford it The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, 2013) is an organization that is dedicated to helping prevent, and putting a stop to childhood obesity. They have a six step policy priorities that will have a significant and long lasting effects on children.
http://www.rwjf.org/en/about-rwjf/program-areas/childhood-obesity/strategy.html This is a link to the website describing the six policy priorities.
Strengths and Weaknesses
When it comes to reducing and preventing childhood obesity, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses in quantity and in quality, but are also very intricately tied together . The weaknesses are not related to the percentage of childhood obesity actually being lower, but in the process of reducing it. One of the weaknesses is in providing the financial means that would be needed to implement policies, create programs, and build safe exercise environments.
In an article by the RWJF, one of the problems that they identified was unhealthy meals and snacks were being sold to children in many schools across the country. Their solution to this is to implement strong policies.The strong policies being implemented in the California state high schools resulted in "students consuming 158 fewer calories per day than students in states that allowed schools to sell unhealthy snacks". (Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, 2013) Here is one of the strengths in trying to prevent childhood obesity, but in the strength there is also a weakness. The foods that are healthier for children do help them, but are also more expensive than those foods that are not as healthy. If the school provides lunch for the children, the school will be spending more money on the lunches and will have to increase the prices of tuition. If the children have to buy lunch from the school, then some of the poorer children may not afford to be able to pay for these lunches, meaning they would have to bring their own from home, which would most likely also be unhealthy.
Reducing childhood obesity will also improve the overall health of children as they grow up, and also have a positive impact on the United States economy, as well as the health care system. 23 million children (that's nearly one third of the entire adolescent/child population) are either overweight of obese, and this causes to children to have a higher risk of health problems than their healthy-weight peers. The risk of developing problems like type 2 diabetes, heart failure, stroke, cancer, and high blood pressure is much higher, and an obese teenager has an eighty percent chance that they will be obese during adulthood. All of this not only has an impact on the people who have these problems, but also the United States economy and the health care system. The medical cost of obesity in the United States is some where between 147$ billion and 210$ billion per year, and childhood obesity costs around 14$ billion (Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, 2013). Reducing childhood obesity would reduce adulthood obesity, and in turn take less of a financial strain on our nation. Besides this is the fact that if childhood obesity is not reduced from it's current number, the United States is "in danger of raising the first generation of American children who may live sicker and die younger than the generation before them". (Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, 2013) The tendencies and habits of children can last to adulthood, so it is important to stop obesity when it starts, and work on preventing before it starts.
Approaches to Creating Greater Abundance
A study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has confirmed that community-based programs can help prevent childhood obesity. The programs that marry the school and community, along with a focus on diet and exercise, have been affective in preventing childhood obesity. In these studies Dr. Sara Bleich states that "research shows that in order to help prevent obesity among children, we must focus on both diet and exercise in the communities where children live and go to school since the environment is a key contributor to obesity risk. Focusing on the community is especially important for children since they generally have little or no control over their environment". (Johns Hopkins, 2013) To reach these conclusions nine studies were examined that all featured community-based interventions.
Another program that is making strides in preventing childhood obesity is called Just For Kids. It was developed at the University of California School of Medicine and tested in the San Francisco school system. Using workbooks that are spread out over five to ten weeks, the program "uses a variety of cognitive, behavioral and affective techniques to help children make successive, small behavior changes that are sustainable. It is a developmental skills training activity that teaches children how to modify their eating and physical activity behaviors, become more self-nurturing, develop effective limit-setting skills, and build a more positive body image". (Just for Kids!, 2013) The program uses one workbook for every weeks in a classroom setting where game like approaches and hands on materials and are taught the physical activities they need to have stronger healthier bodies. This program is also very affordable, with the entire set of books and an instruction manual costing only 46 dollars with shipping. Not only is it helpful for children, but it can also be purchased by schools that do not have a large budget.
We Can is another program that is currently battling childhood obesity that incorporates the parents, caregivers, and entire community in the process of trying to help children live healthier lives. Launched in June 2005, We Can has programs to educate parents, caregivers, and children about healthy eating, getting the needed physical activity, and reducing screen time. The techniques used by we can to reach these communities involves tool kits and online training. There are currently more than 1,600 sites using We Can in the United States, and 14 other countries are also involved with the program.
Understanding Importance of Childhood Health
Childhood health is the basis for which the adult life is built upon. An obese child will have trouble maturing physically when they reach puberty, and can have serious health problems very early into their lifetime. Many obese children are prone to joint and bone problems, sleep apnea, stigmatization, and poor self-esteem; and these are just the small problems. Others include high cholesterol, and a condition called prediabetes, in where the blood glucose levels being to indicate a high risk for diabetes. Childhood obesity can lead to adult obesity, which carries problems such a type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis.
Center for Disease Control. (2013, July 10). Childhood Obesity Facts. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from CDC Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm
Ebbling, C. B. (2002, August 10). Childhood Obesity: public-health crisis, common sense cure. Retrieved September 15, 2013, from All Health Web site: http://www.allhealth.org/briefingmaterials/lancetobesityrev-393.pdf
Fahey, T. D. (2013). Fit and Well. McGraw-Hill.
Lets Move. (n.d.). Learn the Facts. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from Lets Move Web site: http://www.letsmove.gov/learn-facts/epidemic-childhood-obesity
Sealey, G. (2003, September 30). No Sweat When Gym Class Cut. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from ABC News Web site: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=116688
Johns Hopkins . (n.d.). Key Active Projects. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-global-center-on-childhood-obesity/research/
Just For Kids! (n.d.). Just For Kids Program. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
Robert Johnson Wood Foundation. (2013, February). Issue Brief: How can healthier school snacks and beverages improve student health and help school budgets? Robert Johnson Wood Foundation. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
How to Make Physical Activity Fun by AA State of Play (Note: this site is run by a commercial company. We do not usually maintain links to commercial sites, but this one has a useful list of links to sites by non-profits and news media which could be helpful to our readers. Please understand that we are not thereby endorsing any of the products made by AA State of Play, which we have no way of evaluating).
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