Childhood Obesity: A Growing Epidemic

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Childhood Obesity: A Growing Epidemic
Matt Vogel
University of South Dakota

Would you like to super-size this meal for an extra $.39? That is a question far too many Americans hear everyday. People in this country are getting fatter and fatter. "In a study conducted by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM), the prevalence of obese children age 6 to 11 is three times as high as 30 years ago," (Arnst and Kiley, 2004). Additionally, 31% of the total U.S. population is classified as obese (Tiplady, 2005). As obese kids move through adolescence and into adulthood, their risk for health problems such as hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes increases greatly (, n.d.). To tackle this
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"Only 8% of elementary schools, 6.4% of middle schools, and 5.8% of high schools nationwide provide daily physical education," (Arnst and Kiley, 2004). If kids aren't getting exercise at school, they certainly won't be getting it at home with television, computers, and video games to consume their time. How to reverse the trend of childhood obesity is not a difficult thing to figure out. To actually implement practices and to change people's ways of life, however, will prove to be a very tough thing to do. It has to start in the homes. Kids, at least the majority of them, listen to and imitate their parents' behaviors. If they see dad munching on a bag of chips as a midnight snack, they will do the same. If they see him grab an apple from the fridge instead of those chips, they will most likely follow suit. When kids are at the grocery story with their mom, she can suggest some bananas or baby carrots instead of the ho-hos or candy bars.
Other ways for parents to get involved, according to the USDHHS, include cutting down the amount of fat and calories in family meals, eating together as a family more often, drinking water instead of drinks with added calories and sugar, and stocking the fridge with fruits and vegetables and low-fat milk and dairy products (, n.d.). Other suggestions would be going to Subway instead of McDonald's if you have to eat on the run, and always searching for lower fat and calorie