The Childhood Obesity Epidemic
In February of 2010 first lady, Michele Obama, launched the Let’s Move campaign. The initiative is meant to address the problem of childhood obesity by engaging those sectors of society that impact the heath of children. Schools, families, and communities will be provided the tools to help children be active, eat better, and enhance overall health.
Nearly one-third of American children are overweight or obese and one of every three children born after the year 2000 will get diabetes at some point in their lives.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
There are many factors contributing to the rise of childhood obesity. These include the following:
- The traditional family dinner has been compromised.
- Junk food is easily accessed even at school.
- Physical education programs have been gutted through budget cuts.
- And school lunches now consist of what is least costly to prepare.
With the health of our children in the balance, the time for motion is now. In a report that has been defined as “deeply troubling” by the National Institute on Aging, life spans for some of the least educated Americans is actually in decline. One of the possible explanations that has been offered for this disturbing trend is obesity.
Educating Our Children
The first step to addressing the problem of childhood obesity is to educate our young people about the dangers of being overweight and the rewards of a healthy lifestyle.
Childhood obesity will eventually lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and sleep apnea. The social problems that young people endure because of their weight problem can effect self-esteem and lead to depression. Academic efforts are also subject to negative impact.
Eating Healthy Guidelines
Guidelines for healthy eating are provided in the Let’s Move campaign. The place to begin would be learning to read the labels that are on the food products we purchase. Information about total fat content, sodium content, carbohydrate content, protein content, and sugar content is stamped on each label.
Familiarity with the Food Pyramid 2.0 is another solid recommendation. It not only provides information about a balanced diet but requires physical exercise due to the decrease in physical activity among Americans.
Ridding schools of junk food also is on the agenda, with vending machines as a prime target. Healthy vending machines that are stocked with a better grade of product are becoming more popular.
Get Active Approach
Families, schools, and communities need to become more active and set good examples for our young people. An overall supportive and physically active environment will help produce a more physically active child who will grow into a more physically active adult.
Quality programs of physical education need to be a part of our school system, and low or no-cost approaches are being incorporated to offset objections about expense.
Communities can become involved with non-profit organizations and local businesses providing after school activities in well-maintained and safe environments.