Obesity in the United States has been deemed a “critical public health threat’ (Wang et al. , 2008, p. 620) for three reasons. First, overweight children are more likely to grow up to be overweight or obese adults. Second, Obesity among adults causes health related problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several cancers, and other health related issues hat can result in premature death.
Third, in 2000, the United States spent 5117 billion dollars towards obesity (Wang et al. , 2008, p. 620). Considering this chain of events often begins in childhood, reducing obesity in children could dramatically change the frequency of obesity in the future. Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef and advocate for stopping the obesity crisis, (2010) suggests that the frequency of obesity in children is related to three main external factors: the home, the school and, what he refers to as ‘Main Street’- corporations and businesses in the food industry.
In the united States, it is estimated that 31 million children each day each breakfast, lunch or both at school and spend halt of their days of the year there (Oliver, 2010). This substantial amount of time spent and meals eaten at school indicates the vast impact the school has on children, Obesity, in simple terms, is essentially caused by a caloric imbalance, where greater quantities of calories are consumed than are expended (Tool, Anderson, Miller, & Guthrie, 2007), Preventing obesity amounts to controlling calorie consumption and increasing calorie expenditure.
Therefore, food and hysterical activity programs implemented in schools are the most effective ways to change the frequency of obesity in children. As a result, these programs need to be encouraged in order to make a substantial change on the obesity crisis. The School Breakfast Program (SSP) is a federally subsidized meal plan in the United States that provides breakfast to an estimated ICC million children each day (Story, Nanny, & Schwartz, 2009), which are primarily from low-income families. Meals provided as part Of SSP must meet a criterion Of nutritional content in order for a school to be financially reimbursed (Story, et al. 2009). In a study of over 2000 students, ranging from grades one to 12, it was found that a student who ate a school breakfast on a daily basis would have an expected body mass index (IBM) of 0. 75 lower than a student who did not (Gleason & Dodd, 2009), which on a 5-foot child is a difference of 4 lbs (Gleason & Dodd, 2009). Another study found that Sap leads to better dietary habits, with a decrease in the percentage of calories from fat and a decrease in the likelihood of low nutrient intake. (Patriarchy, Currie, & Header, 2006).
As evidenced in these studies, SSP is an effective method for schools to adopt in attempting to crease students’ Bum’s. Schools’ adoptions of food programs has proven to decrease Bum’s in students who participate in these programs but in order to make a greater impact, further efforts need to be made. Voodoo and beverages sold in schools can be classified in two categories: federal food programs, or ‘competitive foods’ (Story et al. , 2009). Competitive foods can be found inside and outside of school cafeterias such as vending machines or school stores (Storey et al. , 2003).
Since these foods are outside Of the federal food programs, they are not regulated for nutritional intent. While students are being told in classrooms to eat healthily, they are receiving inconsistent messages when unhealthy foods are available to them at schools (Tool et al. , 2007). By incorporating the nutritional standards of food programs to encapsulate all food sold in schools, competitive foods could still be sold provided they meet a certain nutritional standard. This would give children a wider variety of healthier foods and eliminate the temptation to choose unhealthy alternatives.
Schools can do more than adopt food programs to decrease obesity amongst their students. By combining physical activity with healthy eating, the effectiveness of their efforts could be largely increased. A survey of 5200 fifth graders found lower Bum’s among students who went to schools that participated in both Todd and physical activity programs compared to those who did not (Buglers, & Fitzgerald, 2005). Not only does physical activity improve children’s physical health, but it can also improve their concentration in the classroom (Story, Spankings, & French, 2006), Story et al. Argue (2006) that allowing students to take recess breaks can help them pay better attention in class, making class earning more effective. Along with preventing and reversing obesity, children benefit from physical activity academically as well. Along with food programs, physical activity needs to be promoted more in schools. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education states that there in no incentive for schools to Offer physical education, mainly because there is no federal law requiring it (in Story, et al. , 2009).
Lee, Burgeon, Fulton, and Spain report, “[o]only 4 percent Of elementary schools, 8 percent Of middle and junior high schools, and 2 percent of high schools provide daily physical education” (as cited in Storey, et al. , 2009, p. 85). As long as there continues to be no daily or weekly physical activity requirements set by governments for schools, change will only result if individual schools decide they want to offer more physical education. Although some might argue that physical education could negatively affect students academically, this has proven to not be the case.
Trusted and Shepherd argue that taking away up to an hour from other subjects does not harm student’s academic performance (as cited in Story, et al. , 2009). Dave Owen (2007) states, “many schools just scant provide gym classes the way hey once did. Our schools are normally overcrowded now days so the gymnasium needs to perform as the lunchroom,” Owen is overlooking that even it school minimums are being used at lunchtime as space for children to eat in, that time is not interfering with gym classes.
Class time runs before and after lunchtime, therefore, even it space is an issue in schools, humanism can be used for both purposes without impeding on each other. Introducing physical education into the mandatory curriculum of schools would be extremely beneficial Since it does not impose on academic achievement or spatial ministrations in schools, more schools should be voluntarily adopting some form of physical activity. By educating schools on the importance of physical activity and the benefits children receive from it, perhaps more schools will decide to incorporate it into their programs.
If this is unsuccessful, government regulation of physical activity in schools may be necessary in order to have all schools participate. The obesity crisis is worsening and needs to be addressed immediately. The studies referred to herein hue proven how easy and effective certain programs could be. Both food and physical activity programs in schools have proven to be significantly associated With lower BUM’S. If this trend were to continue, the frequency of obesity in children would be expected to decrease.
Ideally. Schools would implement these programs on their own initiative, but since childhood obesity is a rapidly growing crisis, government intervention may be necessary if schools do not decide to do so independently. By addressing childhood obesity now, schools are positively affecting the future, Through leading by example, schools can encourage the rest of society to fix their poor health habits, stopping the obesity crisis entirely.