7 April 2014
A major problem facing the United States today is childhood obesity. According to Roy Benaroch, MD, from WebMD, one in five children is obese or overweight (Obesity in Children). This massive finding should not be taken lightly. According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.8 million people are dying per year due to being obese or overweight (Strategies and Solutions). This dangerous fact is not just an adult issue, children are even affected as well. A recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years” (Childhood Obesity Facts). There are many reasons for this extreme increase. Obesity is the result of eating too many calories and not burning them off by engaging in physical activity (Strategies and Solutions). Some children find video games and watching television more appealing than going outside and being active. However, with increased budget cuts, some of the blame could be put on schools. In some schools, students are no longer able to participate in a gym class. Therefore, students are not learning to be physically active or even receiving any exercise at all throughout their day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “a dramatic increase in diabetes and other diseases related to childhood obesity in the United States has added millions of dollars to health care costs…” (Childhood Obesity Facts). Health care costs are increasing along with obesity. Obesity is not easy for kids to outgrow. Studies done by the American Osteopathic Association found that “...among adults who had been obese during preschool age, one in three will still be obese in adulthood” (Wieting). If this problem can be stopped during childhood, fewer adults will then later have to deal with obesity. Clearly, something needs to be done to put an end to this epidemic. Childhood obesity is on the rise, but it can be potentially stopped by parental influence, schools enforcing healthier diets, and physical activity in schools. In order to reverse the issue of childhood obesity, parents need to influence their children to live a healthy lifestyle. This can be done when parents spend more active time with their kids. The amount of time kids are left unsupervised can influence how likely a child is to be overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “unsupervised children may spend a great deal of time indoors…watching TV or playing video games rather than engaging in more active outdoor pursuits” (Childhood Obesity Facts). When parents spend less time at home, children may be more likely to rely on unhealthy processed foods. Instead of leaving their children alone to fend for themselves, parents could make it a priority to engage in physical activity with their children. They can also encourage their kids to consume healthier foods. Parental food preferences directly influence and shape those of their children. Children tend to eat whatever their parents do (LiveScience Staff). If parents are consuming unhealthy food, chances are their children are as well. Having healthier food in the house is one way to eliminate that problem. According to the LiveScience Staff, “children who have overweight parents are more likely to be overweight” (Parents Blamed for Childhood Obesity). The examples set by parents regarding exercise and eating habits influence those of their children. A study done by the LiveScience Staff found that in California “teens whose parents drink soda every day are nearly 40 percent more likely to drink soda every day themselves…” (Parents Blamed for Childhood Obesity). The evidence clearly shows parents have the power to influence their children’s choices immensely. Being their primary role models, parental behavior influences their children's health, either positively or negatively depending on the parents input. In addition to parental influence, schools need to enforce healthier diets. Children spend a majority of their day at school, sometimes consuming both breakfast and lunch there. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it would be effective to “increase access to free drinking water and limit the sales of drinks with added sugars in schools by establishing school wellness and nutrition policies” (Strategies and Solutions). Many students purchase caffeinated beverages or ones with high sugar content from vending machines. According to the American Osteopathic Association, “the US Department of Agriculture approves school meal programs, but they do not regulate the nutritional content of most snacks and other high-calorie foods” (Wieting). Regulating foods and drinks that can be purchased outside of the school lunch program that contain added sugars, fat and salt could potentially help with the epidemic (Strategies and Solutions). Most of these unhealthy foods are purchased from vending machines. Schools can help with the issue of childhood obesity simply by serving healthier food.
Along with parental influence and more healthy school foods, there needs to be more of an emphasis on physical activity in schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “only about one-third of elementary children have daily physical education, and less than one-fifth have extracurricular physical activity programs at their schools” (Childhood Obesity Facts). Lately, due to budget cuts, schools have been eliminating gym class and extracurricular activities, which has a major impact on children. Not only does exercise help one steer clear from obesity, but it also plays an important role in the brain. A child's developing brain needs a healthy dose of physical activity in order to function and grow properly. According to WebMD, it has been proven that physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, allowing brain cells to get better at connecting with each other. Kids who exercise are sharper mentally and often develop better thinking skills. They have more confidence, are in better moods, and experience sounder sleep (Griffin). If kids aren’t getting the necessary amount of physical activity, it could have lasting negative effects on their health. Healthy habits are taught in elementary physical education, and it is crucial that children learn them, especially if they do not participate in extracurricular activities, like sports. Research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, “more than 60 percent of children aged 9 to 13 do not participate in any organized physical activity during their non-school hours…” (Sealy). Because school takes up the majority of a child’s life, school administrators need to understand that they can help be part of the solution by making physical activity a part of every school day. Without it, chances are many kids won’t get the amount of exercise they need to be healthy.
Some might argue that the above proposals addressed to help stop the rising issue of childhood obesity will not succeed. One argument could be made that schools should put more emphasis on academics rather than physical activity. However, this argument falls short because it has been shown that physical activity increases brain activity. According to TIME, evidence shows that kids who engage in physical activity before a test score higher in math, english and science (Sifferlin). There is a clear connection between children being physically active and higher scores on tests in core classes. This shows just how important it is to provide students with time to exercise. Some might also argue that it is more expensive to eat healthier. However, contrary to popular belief, many healthy foods are no more expensive than junk food. For example, Andrea Carlson, economist and co-author of the report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, found that “the price of potato chips is nearly twice as expensive as the price of carrots by portion size” (Hellmich). This means that it is possible to make healthy choices that are affordable. A recent study found that many people were surprised to find that their grocery bills didn’t go up when they swapped processed goods for fresh foods (Hellmich). Therefore, one cannot use the excuse that eating healthier is more expensive. It is clear that obesity in children is at extremely high levels in America and needs to be addressed. First of all, the issue could be improved if parents begin to understand the power of their influence and become better examples in their kid's dietary life. Secondly, because kids sometimes eat two meals as well as snacks at school, it would help if the food choices offered in the schools were healthier. Lastly, if more of an emphasis is put on physical activity in schools, children would not only be made to be more active, but benefit from the positive effects of exercise, like increased brain activity. In conclusion, if these changes are made, they could ultimately help put an end to the nationwide problem of childhood obesity.
Benaroch, Roy. "Obesity in Children ." WebMD. WebMD, 11 July 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. "Childhood Obesity Facts ." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2014.
Griffin, Morgan. "Your Kid's Brain on Exercise." WebMD. Ed. Hansa D. Bhargava. WebMD, 8 May 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.
Hellmich, Nanci. "Healthy food no more costly than junk food, government finds." USA Today News. 16 May 2012. Web. 25 Mar. 2014.
"Parents Blamed for Childhood Obesity." live science beta. live science, 9 Feb. 2009. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
Sealy, Geraldine. "Just Do It? Many Schools Cutting Gym Class." ABC News 30 Sept. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
Sifferlin, Alexandra. "Study: More Active Teens Get Higher Test Scores." TIME. TIME, 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
"Strategies and Solutions." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
Wieting, Michael. "Cause and Effect in Childhood Obesity: Solutions for a National Epidemic." The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association . American Osteopathic Association, 1 Oct. 2008. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
Benaroch, Roy. "Obesity in Children ." WebMD. WebMD, 11 July 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. This medical website is based upon the facts. This particular article describes the importance of exercise in children’s lives. It talks about studies done proving that kids who engaged in physical activity ultimately performed better on tests in school. This is valuable to me because it helps me prove the need for more of a stress on physical activity in schools.
"Childhood Obesity Facts ." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. This academic journal article is based on studies, and gives statistics about just how much of a rising issue childhood obesity is becoming. It also gives methods of preventing, which include healthier lifestyles, physical activity, and school influence. It is valuable to my research because it provides facts to prove how big of an issue obesity is along with giving me ideas of solutions to help stop the rising issue. A strength is this article is coming from a well-known organization, that’s focus is saving people’s lives. Griffin, Morgan. "Your Kid's Brain on Exercise." WebMD. Ed. Hansa D. Bhargava. WebMD, 8 May 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. This educational article informs the public about just how beneficial exercise can be for the kids brain. It gives statistics about how kids performed better on english and science tests when exercising before hand. They also experienced better moods and sleep. It is credible because the information is backed up by professional doctors.
Hellmich, Nanci. "Healthy food no more costly than junk food, government finds." USA Today News. 16 May 2012. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. This newspaper article describes how many healthier foods are no more expensive than junk food, which is contrary to popular belief. It gives price data and statistics. It is valuable to my research because it will help me write my rebuttal, proving the other side wrong. The amount of statistics and facts that are included give this article some significant strengths. Moss, Rebecca. "What Ever Happened to Gym Class? Budget Cuts and the Rise of Childhood Obesity." AlterNet. birocreative, 3 July 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. This article explains how some students only get physical activity during school hours in gym class. It is valuable to my research because one of my solutions is to put more emphasis on physical activity in school. It will help back my argument up. A strength is this article is written by a gym teacher herself, but it also contains professional opinions. "Parents Blamed for Childhood Obesity." live science beta. live science, 9 Feb. 2009. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. This article explains the impact that parents have on their children’s eating habits. It talks about how children tend to eat what their parents eat. It is valuable to my research because one of my solutions to the issue is parent influence. It will provide evidence that parents need to intervene with their children’s health. A strength this article has is the amount of research, contains many statistics. However the weakness is it is from 2009, being not entirely up to date. Sealy, Geraldine. "Just Do It? Many Schools Cutting Gym Class." ABC News 30 Sept. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. This news article explains just how important gym class is to children’s health. It covers why gym classes are being cut and the percentage of how many students are enrolled in gym classes. It will help me with my physical activity in schools solution. Overall, it is well written and backs up its position with evidence. Sifferlin, Alexandra. "Study: More Active Teens Get Higher Test Scores." TIME. TIME, 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. This credible sources talks about studies that were done on active kids. They performed better on tests. This will help me prove that physical activity is a necessity in schools. TIME is a reliable source that most trust. Smith, Corrine. "10 Frightening facts about child obesity." examiner.com. N.p., 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. This credible source contains an article that gives important statistics and facts about the rising issue of childhood obesity and how it has increased by almost 13% in 28 years. It talks about causes and effects of the epidemic. It is valuable to my research because it will help me describe the problem, giving me statistics that back me up. One of the strengths of this article is how much evidence it contains. Professionals are quoted in this article, making the argument a lot stronger. "Strategies and Solutions." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. This article from a credible source describes all the steps that can be taken to stop the problem. Specifically what parents and communities can do. It will help me in deciding just exactly what I want to write my solutions on. However, I am for sure that parental influences is going to be one of them, this articles gives great examples of what they can do to help. All in all, it is well researched and gives helpful links to other similar websites.
Wieting, Michael. "Cause and Effect in Childhood Obesity: Solutions for a National Epidemic." The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association . American Osteopathic Association, 1 Oct. 2008. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. This academic journal entry informs the public about causes and effects of childhood obesity. It especially covers the importance of family influence and how schools don’t regulate most snacks and high calorie foods. This will help me with the paragraph I plan to write about healthier diets in schools. I plan to reveal the loopholes in the government regulation of school foods, this article will help back my statement up with evidence. The only weakness with this is it is a little outdated, being from 2008. However, it contains great information backed up with facts.