Introduction: In the nutrition class I teach, students are asked to respond to some questions concerning childhood obesity. One of those students, Ashleigh Patterson, has been asked to be a guest author on this blog site. The questions on childhood obesity and her responses are below.
1. Do you think childhood obesity is a problem?I believe childhood obesity is a problem because there are not many children that exercise on a daily business. For many school-aged children, the only way for them to get their “daily” exercise is at school, and sometimes that is not always enough for them. When children only have school to rely on for their exercise, their diets begin to go downhill in a spiral. Their diets are can be connected not only to school but to how they eat at home, or in many cases not inside their home physically. Parents, when they arrive home from work sometimes declare that they are either too tired or it will take too long to fix dinner, so they hop in the car and head out towards McDonalds or Burger King, some kind of unhealthy fast food place. This is a major problem, between 16 and 33 percent of adolescents and children have become obese. When being an obese child, it is more likely they will maintain the bad eating habits all the way up to their adulthood, unless they change their eating patterns and incorporate exercise into their daily schedule. Children will mimic their parents, when they eat unhealthy foods then the children will learn that it is ok to eat unhealthy.
2. Do you think schools have a role to play in the prevention of overweight and obesity in children?
I believe schools need to have an important role in preventing overweight in children and adolescents. The school board needs to come up with a curriculum that will incorporate more classes that partake in exercise. Many high schools only require the students to have two years of physical education, one year of sex education and driver’s education. Sometimes the schools are the only place where the student is able to receive their physical activity. Not only does more physical education need to be issued, but how breakfast and lunch is being served to them. Vending machines need to be limited or better yet need to be out of the buildings. Students will have their lunch via the machines instead of getting a salad or a baked potato. The physical education and the way lunch is prepared needs to coincide with each other so that the students will have a well-rounded nutrition.3. What can parents do to prevent their children from becoming overweight or obese? If you have a child that is overweight or obese, what steps would you take to improve your child's BMI?
There are multiple ways parents can prevent their children from being overweight or obese. The parents can find out what sports the child likes best and let the child play every day, not only will they exercise but they will receive their daily vitamin D from being outdoors. Parents can start early on by growing their own fruits and vegetables and allowing the child to have their own garden so they can see that it is exciting to see where their food comes from. Another trick parents can do is call veggies by a different name; this would work when they are real young; carrots will be called power sticks and green beans can be called mighty beans. The children would come to terms that while eating healthy foods it can be fun. If my child was overweight, the first step I would take is to learn what kind of sport they enjoy playing and encourage them to play it every single day. I would practice alongside them, keeping up conversation and try to get an hour out of a session each day. Next, I would discover what kinds of fruits and vegetables they enjoy eating the most and have them every night of the week. Foods would be prepared in different ways without losing much nutrients in the process. The last and final resort would be talking with their pediatrician and talking with them to see what the next track would be as a parent to follow.