Changing the Trend of Childhood Obesity

by Sarah Norris on March 30, 2014

As the typical lifestyle in America has evolved, the health of our youth has suffered the consequences. Thirty years ago children led far more active lives than they do now because of the structure of society at the time. They were walking to and from school, eating homemade meals, and spending far more time playing outside and participating in physical activity at school. Now, transportation brings most children to and from school, and with parents leading busier lives there are fewer opportunities for healthy home cooked meals.  Not only are children consuming fewer home cooked meals, portions are getting larger and they are snacking and drinking more sugary drinks than seen years ago.

According to the US Surgeon General nearly one in three children is overweight or obese. Not only does this present health concerns to them in childhood, but these repercussions will follow them to adulthood. Some of the issues associated with obesity are diabetes, heart disease, as well as bone and joint problems. Since children spend a lot of their time in school, it is an important place to start emphasizing the importance diet and exercise in order to reverse this obesity trend.

One solution that the CDC recommends is to implement school-related health programs across state agencies. This could encompass many different avenues, one of such being education about health and nutrition. This can also be integrated into school curriculum in fun and interesting ways in order to engage the students. Not only should children be physically active participating in activities such as gym class, but they can also learn about the science of nutrition in the classroom. Understanding how the body processes sugars and fats and what how to best provide your body with the calories and energy it needs will put into perspective how important this is to the youth of America.

Another strategy that the CDC proposes is to make policies specific to data about individual states and the current level of obesity. Certain areas and school districts are likely to need more intervention than others, and instead of distributing efforts and resources evenly, they should focus and be proportionate to the prominence of childhood obesity in the area. The CDC also acknowledges the importance of government assistance in making this possible. Schools all over the country are aware that they need to do something to improve the health of their students, but many districts are not able to afford it. Even more unfortunate is that the school districts who are not able to afford it usually foster many low-income families who can’t afford to provide healthy homemade meals for their children and need to be able to rely on the schools.

One combined effort that has gotten a lot of attention recently is Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. The main focuses of this program are educating parents and encouraging schools to provide healthy eating alternatives for students. Michelle realizes that no area of the country is exactly the same and encourages local leaders to incorporate programs that will work best for the citizens in their area. The “Let’s Move!” program has done a lot to make sure that schools are serving enough fruits, vegetables, and proteins in their meals, and that students who are unable to afford school lunch are able to get them for free or a reduced cost. This is an important step in making sure that children are not only fed, but fed properly.

It is clear that childhood obesity is a pressing issue that needs to be resolved, and it is important for programs like Michelle Obama’s to be implemented all over the United States. It is also important that they do so in a timely manner, similar to how Michelle Obama hopes to solve the problem within this generation so that the children currently going through public school systems are able to grow up to be healthy adults that will in turn raise healthy children. As many say, the youth are the future of America, so it is crucial to strive for a healthy and educated future.





Accessed March 15th


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LF April 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm



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