Junk Food X Obesity in Children
There is an alarming rise in childhood obesity throughout the United States, making it an epidemic in this country. Over the past thirty years obesity has continued to increase and become a threat to the health of many children. Since the 1970s’ obesity has doubled in children from ages of 2-5, and young adults between the ages of 12 and 19. The most significant increase is seen between the ages of 6-11 where the numbers have tripled; approximately 9 million children over the age of six are obese.
Obesity is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “increase body weight due to excessive accumulation of body fat”, though that concept is continually being refined. In humans, the current measurement of obesity is the body mass index (BMI). A person with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight; a BMI over 30 is considered obese. The American Institute for Cancer Research considers a BMI between 18.5 and 25 to be an ideal target for a healthy individual (although several sources consider a person with a BMI of less than 20 to be underweight). The term “junk food” that will also be discussed in this paper refers to any food that is high in calories, fat, salt, and sugar without bringing any nutritional value to the table.
According to the editorial “Junk it”, published on The San Diego Union-Tribune on March 10th 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is unequivocal on his fight for healthier food for students in public schools. Nowadays obesity threatens to overtake tobacco as the number one cause of death in America. Governor Schwarzenegger made the right decision to terminate obesity in children by eliminating junk food in the public school system. Okay, terminate may be a little too overzealous, since the causes of obesity are rooted in the home and in the genes of each kid, but at least if the school districts listen to the Governor, they will be doing their part by not giving children the opportunity to put unnecessary sugars and fats in their bodies at crucial stages of their physical development. An article published in Health Source Consumer Edition pointed out, “In a perfect world kids would eat all their fresh and raw vegetables, turn their nose up to sugary drinks and desserts and spend all their free time in a physical activity conductive to building healthy bodies and strong character” (Miller 2003). However, this is not a perfect world and children do not choose vegetables over sugary treats.
Until parents stop allowing their kids to graze from a pantry full of food from isle-ends in grocery stores and turn off the TVs, computers and video games, obesity will continue to be an epidemic. It is not the responsibility of schools alone to teach children how to eat properly. But does having full access to vending machines full of sugary drinks and fat-soaked snacks help the cause? Absolutely not! Opponents of banning junk foods from schools will say that teachers are not parents, which is true, and therefore should not be responsible for what children eat. But teachers are more like babysitters. They are granted with the great responsibility of taking care of someone else’s children. Most parents would not allow their babysitter to feed their children a greasy cheeseburger with fries, washed down with a 20-ounce soda, followed by a sugary treat for dessert, day after day after day, for nine months a year. So what harm would be done if we pulled artery-clogging food from the school system and replaced it with healthy food, such as fruits and vegetables, as the Governor insists? That answer is no harm at all, and maybe even something good may come out of it.
Now let’s look at the alternative, leave the junk food for the purpose of arranging lucrative contracts with the junk food empires. Apparently with this being a huge problem, why do parents, teachers, school administrators and the public allow...