Intervention for the Childhood Obesity Epidemic
City University of Seattle
Childhood obesity is a major problem that is widespread in the US today. According to the American Heart Association, one in three kids and teens in America is either overweight or obese, and from 1971 to 2011, the frequency of obesity in American children more than tripled (“Overweight in Children,” 2016). Thus, childhood obesity has now become the number one health problem among parents in America, overtaking smoking and drug abuse. The most common physical health problems related to obesity include high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, and research states that obese children and teenagers are at increased risks of heart attacks and certain types of cancers (Gardner, 2012). An analysis of more than a thousand studies showed that being overweight or obese increases the risk for as many as 13 types of cancer, and these cancers in total account for 42 percent of all new cancer diagnoses (Bakalar, 2016). The psychological effects of childhood obesity are just as serious, and they include being at more risk of being bullied by classmates and having greater risks of low self-esteem, poorer social skills, anxiety, depression, and disordered eating patterns (Kalra, Sousa, Sonavane & Shah, 2012). Obesity in school-age children in America can negatively impact physical and psychological health, which can ultimately take a toll on student learning and growth.
Over the years, a growing number of research has shown that obesity is linked with lower academic performance levels, starting as early as kindergarten (Gardner, 2012). One study involving 6,250 students from kindergarten through fifth grade has found that obese children scored lower on math tests than non-obese children (Gardner, 2012). Another study involving 7,000 third graders showed that obese children were more likely to repeat a grade than children in the healthy-weight range (Datar & Sturm, 2006). Overweight and obese children are reported as being four times more likely to having difficulties at school than their fellow classmates of normal weight (Sahoo, Choudhury, Sofi, Kumar & Bhadoria, 2015). Thus, obese children are at risk for facing challenges in their academic and career journeys, so it is crucial to provide the necessary resources in schools to step the fight against childhood obesity. Since children on average spend six to eight hours a day at school, it makes for a suitable entry point for the prevention of childhood obesity. Moreover, as children grow and develop, they learn to pick up new skills, behaviors of conduct, habits, and attitudes. During this stage, it is key for them to learn and adopt healthy behaviors and habits in relation to nutrition and fitness, for a study reports that approximately 80% of children who are obese will maintain obesity into adulthood (Sinha & Kling, 2008). With the implementation of an effective intervention program, children can grow...