Childhood obesity is one of the biggest issues in America, yet one of the least concerns of the American government. This is an outrage, and I am writing this article in hopes of a change. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Childhood obesity has been the gateway for many early illnesses and diseases including diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), fatty liver disease, and colorectal cancer, which are all linked to long-term obesity.
Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. This is no surprise as we can obviously see how our government has taken very little action to do something about the situation. The “killer” combination of artificial foods served in schools, along with such a technologically inclined society, has seriously impacted the lifestyle choices of our youth. The new generation of children spends more time sitting in front of a television than playing outside after school. It makes me pause to think back to when I was younger and my mother had to scream my name from home to come inside once the street lights came on.
In this day and age, I doubt our kids even know how street lights look when they are on. Physical exercise should be just as encouraged outside as it is within the American school system. Physical Education is just not enough for the youth of today. This issue deserves much more attention than it is receiving if America wants to encourage a change in lifestyle choices. After all, these are our children’s lives and well-being at stake, and when they do not get the opportunity to grow up in a middle-class (or higher-scale) community, their health should not have to suffer the consequences.
My proposal is that a health outreach program for childhood obesity should be implemented in underprivileged communities, and then, expand outward to middle-class and upper-middle-class communities. These programs would ideally serve almost like a Planned Parenthood, but for children struggling with obesity. Children will be able to receive the necessary information and steps on how to change their lifestyle for good. I think it would be a great asset to the “Let’s Move” campaign created by First Lady Michelle Obama and an even greater way to raise awareness in communities.
Opinion and Blog by Sandra Nwigwe
Edited by Leigh Haugh
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National School Boards Association