Wisconsin remains to have a high population of overweight and obese individuals. In fact, Wisconsin is ranked the 15th most obese state in the nation (Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Foundation, 2014). Transitioning from elementary school to junior high school can oftentimes be difficult and stressful. In these times of change, binge eating, eating unhealthily, and staying sedentary (due to feelings of not fitting into a new environment can potentially occur). It is imperative that we teach our young the importance of healthy eating and regular activity, in hopes that these healthy behaviors will carry on through to their adult lives. In this narrative, I will discuss the many benefits of healthy habits that young individuals can incorporate into their daily routines and some potential barriers to said interventions. I will also discuss what aspects of the teaching were received well, and some that didn’t quite get the response intended.
Juggling school, friends, and family obligations can be overwhelming for adolescents at times. It is extremely easy to skip a meal, grab an unhealthy alternative, and sit for hours in front of the television. It is imperative that these youths are given the information and tools to overcome these obstacles. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2010):
State Population of Wisconsin
• Estimated Total Population 2010 = 5,686,986
• Adults age 18 and over = 76.4% of the total population in 2010
• Youth under 18 years of age = 23.6% of the total population in 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014).
Adult Overweight and Obesity
• 62.8% were overweight
• 26.3% were obese
Adolescent Overweight and Obesity
• 14.0% were overweight
• 9.3% were obese (CDC, 2010).
To me, these statistics are staggering. Proper nutrition and the importance of the need for exercise needs to start at home and continue through the schooling education process. I had the pleasure of sharing my power point presentation with approximately 30-40 well-behaved and attentive 6th grade students. The first subject we discussed was eating healthy. Many of the students could name the five essential food groups, and stated that they knew the importance of eating healthy well-balanced meals. It was surprising to find out that a great number of the kids had mothers that actually took the time to cook nutritious meals for the entire family. Many of the mothers also packed appropriate lunches, and the students turned it into a “show and tell” game. I was pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful alternatives to the usual junk foods one would expect (such as chips, soda, and candy). There were a few that admitted to eating fast food on potentially a weekly basis, but many students stated that a trip to McDonald’s or Burger King only happened in the rare occurrence of being rewarded for a good grade or a good deed. Although I know this healthy eating trend is not necessarily the norm, one would like to believe that these healthy behaviors might be the start of a new trend. I was able to stress the potential bad effects poor dietary consumption. The second portion of the power point dealt with keeping and staying active. Adolescents are recommended to do 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity daily. These exercises include aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening (CDC, 2009). Examples of aerobic exercises include going for a walk or run, taking a bike ride. Or being active in games such as soccer o basketball. Some examples of muscle-strengthening exercises include working with weights, pull-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. Finally, some examples of bone-strengthening exercises include tennis, gymnastics, and basketball, jumping and running (CD, 2009). We also discussed that Wisconsin has an abundance of parks, bike trails, hiking trails and bodies of water, which are all great outlets that promote physical activity. The accessibility to these location are often with walking