Obesity & Youth: How You Can Help
Obesity in young Americans is a pressing problem. It affects so many levels of society. It reduces the ability for children to learn and thrive, it effects the community socio-economically in cost associated with medical problems like obesity related diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardio-vascular issues. It causes the children to miss school and to miss achieving their potential due to a lack of learning.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal of reducing the childhood obesity rate to 14.6 % by 2020. How can this be accomplished? Let’s investigate.
First Lady, Michelle Obama started a program called ‘Let’s Move’. It is a pledge to encourage children to commit to staying active every day, giving up soda pop, planting a garden and making a commitment to improving their overall health.
The USDHS states that to help this obesity rate, the average child or teen needs to reduce their daily calorie intake by 64 calories. Though it doesn’t sound significant on a per child basis, as a population level, they believe it will help reduce the 16.9 % current rate of obesity for this age group.
Education about calories in/calories out is critical to make a change in this group. Teaching them:
-to replace all sugar-sweetened beverages with water
-learning basic, healthy cooking skills
-learning about food budgets and what healthy foods you can buy and cook to reduce food costs, and daily total calories.
-having children participate in a comprehensive physical-education program
-provide after-school opportunities for kindergarteners to 5th grade so that they are supervised and educated about healthy life-choices
-educating them on warning signs and information about health problems such as obesity, diabetes and obesity-related illnesses
We are all affected by this obesity epidemic among our young population whether the ones affected are our children or not. If we all get involved at a local level, we can make a difference in these children’s lives.
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By Liz Rizzo