Mr. Huffman English IV
23 February 2012 Good Health Starts with the Children
Nearly fifty- one percent of the United States population was considered obese in 2010. Of this number, nearly seventeen percent were children (Belluck)! This staggering statistic is according to the New York Times. In support of this, scientists are discovering that tastes, eating habits and attitudes about diet are established at a young age and often persist throughout a person’s life (Serrano 642). Clearly, there is a crisis in the country concerning the health of its population. To combat this, a number of things have to be done, starting with the children. Schools, in addition to parents, need to step up and play an active role in fighting childhood obesity, through providing more exercise and healthier eating habits in the schools, by keeping physical education in the schools regardless of budget cuts, by teaching students in the classroom good eating and exercise habits in the classroom, and by following the First Lady’s platform on obesity—all of which will in turn, save the country billions of dollars each year in health costs, that could be reapplied to education.
When looking at statistics, each year the United States spends millions of dollars on health care for children who are obese through their unhealthy habits. One reason obesity is increasing is due to many children modeling their parents’ eating habits, which often includes eating fast food on a daily basis (Illuminare 89). Unfortunately, when children see their parents eating unhealthy foods, they model them because they do not see anything wrong with it. In fact, “...seventeen percent of kids in the United States are overweight, and in some ethnic groups it is much higher, especially among African Americans and Hispanics” (Tartamella 17). The obesity problem is clearly evident when looking at the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the population. The average BMI for a healthy person is between nineteen and twenty-five percent, for an overweight person it is twenty- five and thirty percent, and for an obese person it is thirty percent or higher (Illuminare 89). Many children in the last decade have fallen into the last category, the obese category, with the normal range of BMI ranging with age and gender(Serrano 642). This is all costing the nation money in health care costs. According to a report that was released in September 2004 by the nonprofit organization Action for Healthy Kids, a large city such as New York could be losing twenty-eight million dollars each year (Tartamella 17). It is unbelievable to think that each year health care costs for obese people exceed one-hundred billion dollars (Dawson 1951). When looking at how high health care costs are for obese children and adults, the United States needs to do anything and everything to combat this problem.
One place to start combatting this problem is in the schools because schools, in addition to poor modeling by parents, are also to blame for the obesity in the nation’s children. During school, “…students are able to purchase unhealthy snacks and drinks from cafeterias, school stores, or vending machines in nearly ninety percent of public schools in the United States” (Griswold and Ballaro). However, steps are being taken to remedy this. Recently, governmental regulations have been introduced to ban unhealthy materials from the school diets of children (Sprague). Because of this, many schools are trying to change the lunches they provide children; in recent years, both the federal and the state governments in the United States have taken an increasingly active role in the debate over junk food in schools (Griswold and Ballaro). Looking back to 2005, “…forty state legislatures considered more than two hundred bills addressing the issue of nutrition in schools” (Griswold and Ballaro). Exactly one year later, in the spring of 2006, Senator Harkin and Senator Lisa Murkowski co-sponsored the…