Schools can help change obesity rates through education and balanced diet
In America it is well known that obesity is a common ailment. This is an issue that must be attacked at the core. How do we attack this epidemic and what is the core? To find out the answers I must look at statistics from the past and the present. Parents often have less time to spend with their children therefore, even less time on themselves. Childhood obesity is a result of poor genetics, unhealthy lifestyles, and or sedentary lives. Obesity can lead to an array of weight related health and psychological problems to these individuals. Schools can help families maintain a healthier balanced lifestyle through decreasing obesity rates, utilizing education and overhauling the breakfast and lunch programs. We live in a fast paced world where fast food has hindered our youth from attempting to live healthier lives. This epidemic has caused a 16 percent increase in childhood obesity from the age group 12 to 19 which is slightly lower than the 15 percent increase in age group 6-11, over a two year span.
I am looking specifically at how schools can help prevent obesity through education and what meals they serve for school age children. The menus for schools should reflect healthy eating and yet be eatable thus; the individual creating the menus must also be nutritionally educated. Menu for free lunch programs are regularly contain fatty items such as french fries, pizza, mystery meat products and hot dogs. Teachers and students often report meat with fake grill marks and desert cups or fruit cups that contain high fructose corn syrup. "According to Gwendolyn Driscoll director of communication for ULCA Health Research Policy in a 2009 study, nearly half of adolescents (48 percent) whose parents drink soda every day eat fast food at least once a day, while only 39 percent of teens whose parents do not drink soda eat fast food at least once daily". (American Journal of Public Health) Parents should be required to take an active part in the school programs upon the child's enrolment in school. I will discuss a school that is in its second year 'Starshine Academy' the school is looking at the whole child including nutritional needs and creating a space to make this possible from grades K-12. "This is going to be an awesome ride, perhaps a world game-changer and if we are fortunate, a real giant step toward building a more peaceful, sustainable community and world." (Starshine Academy)
My thesis structures on what programs are available for schools, if they are being utilized, and if education along with proper dieting will help our future generations. Breakfast and lunch programs developed in 1966. The programs as they are today did not just happen overnight it has taken decades of evaluating, testing and constant research to provide nutrition, nutrition education. Healthy eating, regular physical endurance, and education hold a powerful role in preventing obesity. Schools can help with obesity rate through education. The concept of completely raising a health conscious society is possible however; that does not mean that obesity and poor eating habits will disappear.
This means that awareness will improve and with that comes an increase in healthy choices. Teachers need to take continuing education classes that enable them to be fully qualified in fulfilling this gap in education. Schools must implement the physicality aspect to what they consume by having children get involved in the cultivation of what they eat through programs such as 'farm to schools' thus, encompassing systems from pre-k to high schools in all schools charter, private and public alike. The research that I have recently begun to look into has holes and missed connection however if implemented properly has really good framework to make a large dent in today's generation. This can be accomplished through promoting specific values and attitudes through rewarding or reinforcing good behavior's, parents and schools working together have a profound influence on what their children consume in and out of school.
Public school lunches over the last 3 decades are shown above:
1. 70's to early 80s adding whole milk ,meat ,vegetables and fruit became important when hot lunch was implemented in the public school system.
2. In the early 80's schools started looking at nutritional value and calories. Reduction in how many days a week children were able to consume chocolate milk. Real fruits and vegetables were added however it was canned. Deserts were not nutritional. Also less fatty foods were implemented however still very present. During this time schools mixed up what was served, still decreasing caloric intake though.
3. In the 90's fresh fruits vegetables were added and then 2 percent milk was implemented. Later in the 90's 1 percent milk was utilized in many upper grades.
4. When President Obama took office, Michelle Obama made it her mission to decrease obesity in the public schools. As of 2015 she accomplished the goals she set out. The free lunch program is as shown in picture three. Though there are still issues one can see how the change has continually moved forward.
Educators and policy writers should remain focused on this challenge. I believe this is as necessary as drinking water. A health conscious America is very important for the future of this country, more so the survival of human existence. If we look at Social Security Disability in itself will benefit from this program. There are many people on it a very young ages due to lack of nutrition, obesity, early onset diabetes, and it will be programs like this that help society decrease the number of applicants. It has been observed that Life expectancy for our current generation of children will decrease by two years as of 2030 if Australia's and the United States obesity epidemic continue at this rate. The nation's health taskforce in prevention warns in its presidential report. Our future generations are at risk for; high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease to name a few. We must make changes now before this is further imbedded into society.
I have researched many databases utilizing the online library of Rio Salado. The history of schools and national programs can be found through a variety of research. School lunches have been a top since America was discovered however hot lunches were a brought to the attention of the public school board in 1966.
The U.S. Department of Education has provided many articles and research on the topic. The USDE says that 99 percent of public schools have nutrition somewhere in the curriculum. Therefore public school curriculums do not have specific classes devoted to nutrition. The USDE has demonstrated that they are striving to implement stricter guide lines to what is covered when it comes to nutritional values and how it affects children. The curriculum continues to improve.
Throughout the history of the school, this subject has always been present however in today's society the emphasis is focused on how fast things can get done utilizing technology and not physical labor. Health should not come after work or play. An individual's health and the health of their family should be a priority, without good heath we as humans cannot function to our optimum ability. With that said there are schools that stand out and are trying to make a difference in many areas including nutrition as a priority. The school that stands out to is Starshine Academy located in Phoenix Arizona. It is the first school of its kind in the U.S. The Schools began 10 years ago overseas in Africa. This school prides themselves on health, compassion, and a safe place to learn. The school has the students grow food and prepare it in a cooking class that all students are able to participate in throughout the year. In this educational setting, nutrition is taught, and all USDE standards are met.
Michelle Obama has been working on an anti-obesity campaign for many years. She has implemented a steady stream of new guidelines for the schools. For this school year of final implementations will go into effect. The final step is reduced salt intake. This meant that a whole new healthy menu would be in place by this school year 2014-2015. It is being reported that many children have stopped purchasing school lunches and bringing in or ordering lunch. The amount of children is over 1 million nationwide. When observed many children give up on lunch due to the amount of time it takes to purchase the lunch and still have time to eat it is overwhelming or those that were able to get their lunch tossed out the veggies and whole fruit due to the lack of interest and time to consume it. Michelle Obama has not given up and declares that this change is a process and a big change. Change does not occur over-night. This leaves her more determined as there are close to 50 million public school students. The argument by many parents is that there is not enough food in the meals. A father sued a school district because his daughter was pregnant and starving. He said that a lunchable contained more food. Teacher's say, that the athletic children are not putting enough calories in their bodies. More surveys and analysis need to be conducted in order to create the standard in appropriate meals. All students are given the same meals and a first grader receiving the portions as a high school quarterback is inadequate. The perfect system is not in place however through education, data collecting, and the utilization of collaboration, a healthy school lunch can be created that will satisfy the majority.
In addition, a cable television show that produced a series including articles on obesity in America made serious waves. The cable show HBO is well renowned in report and researching hot topics. HBO: The Weight of the Nation: Themes Part 3, discussed ways to render the challenge of obesity. If a child can be taught from pre-K nutritional value and have it extended to home then that's how they know how to live. This article has given a lot of incite on society and the corners that have been cut to save money and time. We know have a lot of alternative when it comes to healthy living. This is a well-known serious and really brings the issue into the home environment. The series followed several schools, children and families to show how obesity affects everything around the network involved in a child's environment.
They concluded that this epidemic if not stopped would decrease life expectancy rates. The show critics really responded overwhelmingly saying that they were not aware of the severity. Another topic discussed was the new program implemented by Michelle Obama. The thought behind the drastic measures are on point however, the public and many schools are unhappy with portions being served to growing children. Many children only have meals from schools due to family's financial problems. Not to mention seven percent of high school students are homeless and gravely depend on nutrition from schools, public schools serve free lunch to students and families in the summer. What is served need to be filling and healthy, yet maintaining appropriate caloric in-take.
When it comes to news on the go which is on every tablet and cell phone these days we must utilize these sites to communicate hot topics such as obesity and other health issues. 'TakePart' - a digital news & lifestyle magazine is a matter of fact article for a parent on the go. These articles are very educational and touched on many basic needs that would facilitate programs decrease obesity through healthy eating. The article discussed 10 points of obesity and school lunch programs, Then conducted a survey. This is the perfect type of site to conduct surveys on. The survey on this site was asking parents and children how they feel about lunch programs.
1. Do you eat school lunch? 23 students said yes and 17 said no
2. Do you like school lunch? 9 said yes and 14 said no
3. Do you think school lunch is healthy? 4 said yes 19 said no
Surveys hold a lot of merit when asking families and students their opinions. There are many ways for schools to take a proactive approach in the prevention of obesity in the school. I would like to see more parent and teacher surveys in this type of article to validate the challenging times ahead in public media forums.
Looking at factual based research already conducted has many benefits. The American Journal of Public Health focus's specifically of decreasing obesity starting at the school level. The research incudes questionnaires, surveys and four year controlled study. The research followed groups from an elementary and junior high school. This was a very good study conducted with positive results. I believe this is a great path to follow however there was not information as to whether the study was home and school based.
Americans are having an increase in obesity and resent surveys have provided us with many health issues that are occurring nationwide. Age is not a large contributor. America follows a close second in surveys conducted randomly. Australia and Europe are following very close falling just above America. Surveys show that there is a decrease in physical education and an increase in dense calorie consumption. The Center for Disease Control issued warnings at both the state and federal levels saying the school lunch programs are hazardous to the health of our nation. The diseases include high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease to name a few. Schools have a chance to decrease these problems if they were to following strict nutritional guidelines. A controlled study was conducted over four years out of Dalhousie University. Results were conclusive that if a specific criterion was adhered to that we would see a rapid change for this Nation. Factual research such as this one holds merit or weight when it comes to making changes that Michele Obama has implemented.
National Centers for Biotechnology has helped to provide 'Farm to Schools'. This is a program that helps local farms to provide schools with food that is locally grown. Farmers are offering a solution through providing food, and allowing children to be involved on various levels. This is a wonderful yet underused program. Programs like this should be heard about more often. The program is listed as a source on the U.S. Department of Education web site. The program became actively involved in the distribution of nutrition so that they can help in prevention of childhood obesity along with education of children. They gather the menus of the schools participating and provide what they can at no cost. Some areas are very involved in the program however many are not. The problem is that they need more farmers to participate and more schools need to become involved. The program is still in the early stages in many areas. Some farmers have gone as far as to implement local programs that allow children to visit the farms and participate in growing the food or raising the animals. Many of these farmers though are located in outlying areas and school need funding to help implement this program for such thing as transportation and staff education.
Furthermore, Harvard Medical School released an article that focused on healthy eating from the absolute best source. Eating food from locally grown crops has many benefits one being that helps to keep allergies down. School is wear children learn about nutrition and spend most of their day time hours from the average age of four to nineteen. Many children go to school and eat breakfast and lunch leaving only one meal at home. The writer discusses the issue of funding for this type of program. If the schools provide data on the project about the actual improvement as an accumulated data source the entire project will continue to be funded for the future. The students would remain anonymous during these studies. This source ties into the 'farm to school' program make-up.
When defining obesity the CDC or center for disease states; Obesity is not being overweight it is defined as being grossly overweight. Obesity is a poor distribution from calorie intake due to many factors such as; genetics, poor health, and environmental factors just to name a few. Children are now at risk for more long-term health effects. Though we live in an advanced technological society there are more diseases effecting the youth of today than ever, given today's medical advancements. All age groups have been affected. Ages 12 to 19 went from 5 percent to 21 percent increase in the rate of obesity. Children continue to fall through the gaps and become adults often with health issues that could have been prevented. This is a vicious cycle that has become worse with each generation. The CDC has issued warning, letting the public know that if this is not stopped disease will become worse. In less than 20 years human will start decreasing in age by 2 years with every year that passes.
The gaps are gigantic though because there are programs not being utilized. All four school system (public, private, charter and home school programs) are not coinciding with each other. I would like to see a streamline in the nutritional system for the United States. If all facets participated in the same working model including the Indian reservations then I believe we would be working toward the common good. To close the gaps all schools for K-12 requires all schools to be on the same page. There is a school that comes very close to meeting all the required needs. The school is called Starshine Academy located in Phoenix, Arizona. The school is a new type of school and has been opened two years ago. The school is utilizing all programs and does not segregate children based upon their skill set. The school is 'green' and provides free lunches to all students. The students are encouraged to participate in farming and gardening. I would like to see the school involved in the farm to schools program and continue to evolve there nutritional program.
In order to begin the system overhaul, all empirical data from the current up to date resources to assist in compiling graphs. It is imperative to survey principals and teacher from all school districts. Then the survey will be sent to families in each district to obtain new data. All surveys will be sent via Email or using a survey site. In addition compiling data from all active resources and active participants for further proof is imperative. With combined efforts from the schools and parents will give an excellent hand on approach. Continued research further on efforts combined in a joint task force. It is found during the research process that many surveys circulating are coming from unique schools that are striving for change.
Furthermore observations over a six month period during breakfast and lunch time at selected schools will assist in. Researchers will make a minimum of at least one visit to each district. This will be sectored when looking at charter and private schools. Visiting researchers have questionnaire and are prepared in advance. Children are asked questions about the food they are consuming. Some interviews are prescheduled and some unannounced. Finally, researchers use a variety of focus group consisting of parents, teachers and children grouped by age.
This will be an ongoing process that will need constant updating and changes. In regards to interviewing children, researchers need to get consent from parents, this may pose an issue and not all parents will want to get involved. A secondary concern is getting people to participate in email survey. Many researcher need to offer a consolation prize upon each completed survey. Getting people to partake in the focus groups often poses a problem due to schedules however, there are always parent groups, PTA, and very involved parents that are more than eager. focus groups again are given a gift card, door prize or food. Finally budgeting for event like this is important, researchers need to proceed with caution and pre-plan for the research. Grants are often used or private funding to gather the information
The programs are there and abundant. It will take a nation to make it work. The gaps need to be filled in and organizations need to work together rather than separately. Teachers and parents need to work together. Living healthier life styles we will have can prevent an early death rate, by living healthy life styles. This will start by our Nation's leading professionals educating the people and doing the right thing by working in unison and our nation will educate the teachers. When it comes to obesity in relationship to the school function has been very slim historically.
The basic function of learning about nutrition has been an ongoing process however a slow process. Nutritional values have constantly changed. In the 1990's there was a decrease in teaching nutritional values and increase in focusing on physical education. As time went on came the generation of fast food, decreased lunchtime and decrease physical activity. Schools became solely academic after elementary school. Due to an overwhelming need to change curriculums some districts began year round schools. Children fell through cracks in the system and the no-child left behind act was put into place under the George Bush administration in 2001. Not only were children not being taught nutritional and physical values, technology reinforced these poor behaviors. Currently the Obama administration has implemented a much higher standard when it comes to nutrition and the education of nutritional values. This is an ever evolving society, constantly changing. This fight though is far from over.