Child obesity has become a major concern as it continues to increase every year in the US. Many parents are uneducated about the risks of childhood obesity. Parental awareness and increasing physical activity are steps towards making a change in the rates of childhood obesity.
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There are many side effects of childhood obesity that can obstruct a child’s future. However, positive changes to children’s health can be achieved through the influence of adults. Child obesity has become a more critical public health issue throughout the world, but especially in Florida. There are ways to help this issue such as improving the school’s environment and bringing awareness.
Statistics show how child obesity is increasing and it is causing negative side effects. Childhood obesity has become the top concern in the United States, passing drug and alcohol abuse (McGrath 54). In the past 30 years, the number of overweight children has increased that it is now considered an epidemic concern (Johnson 23). According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported by the CDC, Florida ranked 13th out of 50 states in the incidence of childhood obesity (“Overweight & Obesity” Par. 3). Approximately one in three children are obese or overweight. This is a continuing concern because 27.5 percent of children ages 10 to 17 are obese in Florida. This puts children at a higher risk of developing physical and psychological issues (Wesley 29). The potential health risks of child obesity include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, chronic illnesses, etc., which can lead to a premature death (Fogel 12). Obese children are also more prone to “emotional” eating for comfort. In addition, obese children have a greater chance of suffering from body image and self-esteem issues. They have a higher risk of becoming depressed because of their quality of life. Children will then become discouraged to change, which can cripple their future. Also, some children will have the likelihood of developing eating disorders at a young age from body image dissatisfaction (Paediatric Par. 3). Overall, childhood obesity is a major issue that is continuing to increase, and will cause a negative impact on the futures of the children.
Physical movement for children at school and at home has suffered in recent years. Only six states require physical education in every grade (Butler-Wall 14). In a report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, only 3.8 percent of elementary schools, 7.9 percent of middle schools, and 2.1 percent of high schools provide daily physical education during the entire school year (Jackson 15). The reason for the lack of physical education is because of the overcrowding in physical education classes, which is causing classes to be ineffective. The citizens of Florida approved an amendment to the Florida Constitution that set limits on the number of students in core classes such as math, English, and science (Wesley 9). However, this amendment does not include physical education classes. Not limiting to the number of students assigned to physical education not only creates a problem with space but can also mean not having enough equipment to accommodate all students (Jackson 13). As a result, children are not properly provided with daily activity during school. Overall, physical education classes in schools are not organized, which is causing a decrease in movement for children.
Not only are children doing little physical activity at school, but technology is also causing a deficiency in activity. As technology becomes a popular demand, it is causing a lack of movement, which is increasing the chances of child obesity. Watching TV is connected to weight gain because it reduces metabolism, physical activity, and increases food intake (“Overweight & Obesity” Par. 3). Not only is technology causing a lack of activity, but also influencing children’s food choices through ads. According to estimates by the Federal Trade Commission, children are exposed to 25,600 advertisements per year, while 5,500 are of food and beverages. An analysis of foods advertisement during children’s television programming discovered that most foods marketed to children are low in nutritional value, and healthy food ads are nonexistent (Goris 35). This shows how TV food commercials are targeting kids, which is causing unhealthy choices. In today’s world, technology is impacting kids’ nutrition in a negative way.
Many children lack nutrition because of their unfortunate circumstances. The majority of obese children come from low wage families. As a result, parents buy unhealthy food because it is the cheaper option (Paediatric Par. 6). There are more opportunities for children to overeat at home compared to other food environments such as school (Ferrarin 17). In addition, the majority of low wage families live in rural areas that do not have access to grocery stores that provide healthy options. These areas are called food deserts. Low wage families have to travel a long distance in order to find a grocery store that supply nutritious food. As a result, parents cannot afford traveling so they are compelled to buying junk food from cheap stores. Therefore, food deserts are increasing the risk of child obesity because of the limitation of proper nutrition (Toothman 36). The deficiency of nutrition can be seen in the children in Florida. The Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey found that in Florida only 21.9 percent of middle schoolers drink three or more glasses of milk per day. This study also found that 26.0 percent of Florida middle schoolers dink two or more sodas per day during the week. This is a concern because soda is vey high in sugar with zero nutritional value (Zapata 13). This shows how places that lack healthy stores lead to an increase in bad habits. Providing proper nutrition for students is a major factor in decreasing child obesity rates.
Public awareness can be an effective solution for child obesity. Many parents assume that children will lose their “baby fat” when their child becomes older. However, this is not the case due to bad eating habits at a young age. Hospital-based childhood obesity education programs have been established to improve patient and family awareness and understanding of the risks of child obesity (McGrath 39). In south Florida, the DNP project was created to educate parents. This project consisted of the Lewin’s change model. This model is a three-step process that includes unfreezing, changing/moving, and refreezing. Unfreezing focuses on the parents identifying that their child is obese. The changing/moving step is the process of developing a plan/way to change unhealthy habits. The last step, refreezing consists of executing the plan for better health (Johnson 20). As parents become educated, they can encourage their kids to eat healthy and exercise. However, this solution is not feasible because hospitals do not have the money to execute these programs (Wesley 24). If possible, hospital programs are a great way to inform parents of the risks of child obesity. Given these points, this solution can prevent children from future excess weight.
Changes in a school setting is an ideal way to prevent childhood obesity because children spend a large portion of their day at school where they can be physically active and consume the majority of their daily nutrition. The Institute of Medicine recommends expanding the role of a nurse at school provide counseling for overweight children, check blood pressure, and track BMI. Nurses can also recommended a weight loss plan for obese students (Quelly 19). Another way nurses can play a role in the student’s health is by education. Nurses can include fun activities to encourage students to learn about the human health. For example, there can be rewards for students who write articles about healthy life styles for the school’s newsletter or who participate in the school’s health council. A school nurse would be essential in poor areas, since the majority of obese children come from low wage families. However, this solution is not feasible because it would be a big expense to hire nurses. Many public schools do not have space in their budget to include nurses (McGrath 43). If achievable, nurses can lead children in the right direction for a healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, providing nurses at school can benefit kids in a positive way.
Changing the food environment at school is one of the major ways to help improve childhood obesity rates. Since the majority of low wage parents cannot afford nutritional food, a solution would be for schools to provide free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch for students. This is made possible through the National School Breakfast and Lunch program (Ferrarin 35). Since Former first lady, Michael Obama, was very dedicated in helping the issue of child obesity, the U.S. Department of Education were obliged to award $32 million to nutrition and physical education programs. School lunches are now improving their food choices by removing sugary drinks and fatty treats in order to provide proper nutrition for their students. This is solution is feasible if schools are provided with enough money from the government (Quelly 47). In Florida, the majority of schools receive enough to provide students healthy meals. Free breakfast and lunch at school are a practical way to help provide student their daily nutrition.
Another way to aid in reducing the rates of child obesity is through physical education. Physical education causes a healthy mindset, and decreases the chances of becoming diagnosed with an illness. Exercising should not be an option; it should be mandatory throughout the school year. Increasing physical activity can improve academic performance (Jackson 16). In Florida, a bill was signed into law that required elementary students to be given at least twenty minutes of recess (Butler-Wall 39). In addition, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that children ages 10-18 should be physically active for at least 60 minutes everyday. Activeness levels decrease as children get older; therefore, schools making daily activity a habit is crucial to decrease future obesity (Zapta 65). Former First Lady, Michael Obama, was a great influence in increasing physical activity in schools. She launched the ‘Let’s Move! Active Schools’ campaign, which caused many schools to increase their physical education levels. The solution of increasing physical activity can be feasible by creating a law stating that exercise is a requirement in all grades (Toothman 55). Since Michael Obama has made the public aware of the deficiency of physical activity, it can be easier to pass a law. Overall, increasing exercise in school will help children stay in shape throughout elementary school.
Although playing video games excessively is seen as contributor to childhood obesity, new games, called exergaming, have been designed to increase physical activity. The way the video game works is a student is paired with a type of exercise equipment in order to play. This type of game can be a fun way for student to get active (Fogel 59). In addition, these exergaming labs can put in schools for greater opportunities for physical activity. These labs could also be available for students before and after school (Goris 15). Although necessary gaming equipment is costly, this gaming solution can be feasible. Schools can start fundraisers to raise money for the equipment. Creating new ideas for activity can help children stay interested and more become more open to different ideas to help become healthy.
Child obesity is a serious health problem in today’s world; however, positive changes can make a difference. There are many negative effects of child obesity such as a decrease in confidence and an increased chance of an early death. Despite that, actions such as changing the school’s environment and educating parents can help reduce the increasing rates of child obesity. The role of a nurse is necessary for children as a guide to healthy habits. In addition, parents enforcing a healthier lifestyle at home can decrease the chances of obesity. A great influence on children is needed in order for them to make healthy decision on their own. These solutions with reinforcement can be done to prevent future obese children, and lead to a healthier society.
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Wesley, Jennifer S. Examining Health Disparities and Childhood Obesity in Florida and Georgia, Walden University, Ann Arbor, 2018. ProQuest, https://login.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/login?URL=http://search.proquest.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/accountid=10920?url=https://search-proquest-com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/docview/1972443249?accountid=10920.
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