You get up Monday morning ready for the new week. You wake your kids up, get them dressed and make them a nice nutritional breakfast before they head off to school. On the way to the bus your oldest points out that you forgot to pack them lunches. You open your wallet and hand them each five dollars and tell them to buy lunch when they get to school. Most kids probably look forward to the days their parents forget to pack them a lunch. Why? Because when they get to school they have the option of purchasing candy, chips, soda, and other high sugar and fatty foods. Even if they save the money to use at lunch, most schools serve fried and fatty foods that have little to no nutritional value.
After receiving our topic of Developmental Health, I knew immediately that I wanted to focus on the issue of obesity. This is a growing problem in our society and it does not just include adults, it affects children as well. The percentage of overweight or obese children has doubled in the past 30 years. Our group decided to focus on addressing the possible changes that can be made regarding the developmental health issues that surround children. Before conducting any research I decided to narrow my focus down. Instead of looking at all the possible changes that could be made to children’s lives, I decided to focus on one aspect; schools. I believe it is important for parents to set good examples and teach their children healthy habits. However, if children then go to school and are surrounded by high sugar and fatty foods the parents desire for their children to be healthy will be counteracted.
I began my research by looking up the definition of obesity. Almost all of the sources I came across agreed that obesity is defined as an excess amount of body fat. But how do you get this extra fat? This is the next thing I began to research. There are several factors that contribute to the problem of obesity. These factors included genetics, behavioral patterns and environment. However the main contributor to obesity is the amount of food consumed in comparison to the amount worked off. Food is a necessity to life and is not something you can just eliminate. So if you can’t eliminate the source of the problem how do you fix it?
Although most people are aware that obesity is a rising problem in our society the majority of them don’t know how to fix it. This is because society is uninformed. Recognizing there is a problem is one thing, but understanding and knowing how to fix the problem is what counts. At this point in my research I came across Sharron Dalton’s book Our Overweight Children: What Parents, Schools, and Communities Can Do to Control the Fatness Epidemic. The focus of Dalton’s book was to provide parents, educators, community leaders, health-care providers, and social workers with an understanding of the growing problem and present different ways to fight this epidemic. Dalton did an excellent job of laying out the necessary steps needed to fight this epidemic but to me just suggesting ways to create a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough to completely eliminate an epidemic.
From here, I continued to research obesity and looked for something that put ideas like Dalton’s into action. This is when I ran across Lisa Murkowski’s article. This kind of article was what I had been looking for all along. Murkowski believes that the school systems are offering “poor dietary temptations” to children and believes the schools need to be reinforcing healthy eating habits. In the article Murkowski mentions that she and Senator Tom Harkins re-introduced The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act. She did not go into a lot of detail about the act. She simply explained that the act would help update the current federal law that defined the nutritional standards. I had never heard of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act so I decided to do more research. I found an article that went into more detail about the act Harkins and Murkowski were trying to pass and found more information about why they felt so strongly about creating healthier options for children. After learning more about Harkins and Murkowski’s goal to help children live healthier life styles, I decided to continue researching to see if other people had similar goals.
This is when I came across an article written about Michelle Obama. This was a story about Michelle’s announcement to solve the challenge of childhood obesity. The piece went into detail about Michelle’s nationwide campaign called “Let’s Move”. Through this campaign she plans not only to educate the public about the obesity epidemic but also provides schools, families and communities with simple tools to help kids’ live healthier lives. Out of all the sources I used, this one was my favorite because it provided possible solutions to the obesity epidemic and showed that people do care about this growing problem and they are working on ways to solve it.
The obesity epidemic will not be resolved overnight. This problem will continue to get worse unless we find ways to correct the bad habits our society has developed over the years. It is hard to change life style habits, especially if they are bad habits, but if we can target our children and teach them healthy and smart choices from the beginning it is possible we can start to reverse this ongoing epidemic.