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Preventing Obesity Within Schools Essay

1759 words - 7 pages

Physical activity is seen as an important and essential part of a child’s life (Rivkin, 2000). With the increasing prevalence of overweight children, and the decline in physical activity (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010) there is justifiably a concern about the relationship of these to obesity. Research suggests that the benefits of physical activity during middle childhood are multifaceted. Goran, Reynolds & Lindquist (1999, p. 18) conceptualises that is not merely a means of increasing levels of fitness, but a foundation in promoting healthy lifestyle patterns and psycho-social well-being. As teachers generally recognise that their role extends beyond being an information dispenser (Harden & Crosby, 2000), there are practical strategies that can be implemented in facilitating children to build on the concept of health. Although, as the levels of childhood obesity continue to rise, it may be argued that there is no current consensus about what role government, parents, society and teachers currently play in addressing and preventing obesity. This essay seeks to address the benefits of physical activity in middle childhood, and the strategies teachers can implement in promoting self-awareness in healthy lifestyle choices.

Middle childhood, for many children, is a time where skills learned from earlier experiences are refined and tested within new challenges (Craig & Baucum, 2002, p. 316). Additionally, with an increase in solidification of valuable neurological circuits, there is an enhanced and sustained ability to learn. Also, a more sophisticated approach is displayed towards decision making, planning and problem solving. Socially; friendships become more powerful and significant as dependence on parents shifts to peers. This coincides with a heightened social comparison and self-understanding. Physically, height and weight gains occur at a steady rate, basic gross motor skills stabilise and fluency in fine-motor skills begins to emerge. However, despite an increasing athletic ability, it is indicated that time spent engaged in physical activity decreases (Berger, 2009, pp. 393, 403; McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, pp. 21, 154).

As well as physical activity being pleasurable, it has also been linked to improved health outcomes such as endurance, weight management, motor coordination and muscular strength. Additionally, Brink (as cited in Waite-Stupainsky & Findlay, 2001, p. 18) indicates how exercise produces biological and chemical changes that increase brain function. The benefits and importance of free play is discussed by Rogers and Sawyers (as cited in Waite-Stupainsky & Findlay, 2001, p. 20) as a vehicle in offering opportunities for children to practice cognitive and social skills. Research also outlines the benefits of offering children opportunities to engage in a diverse range of sports. This encourages the development of critical catching skills required for hand/eye coordination and refining of hand and finger movements (Savelsbergh,...

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