Professor Russ III
October 27, 2014
THE NEED TO START SOMEWHERE
While the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program seems to be helping millions of poverty homes put food on the table, it has created a downside and has room for improvement. As studies have proven, poverty stricken and the SNAP program has been linked to the increase in obesity and has caused health care prices to rise. Research conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that SNAP participants are disproportionately obese and have poorer diet quality in comparison to income eligible non-participants,” (Leung, 2012). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2014a), states that “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” “Today about 1 in 3 kids are overweight or obese, says the American Heart Association, (2014). Because there are no food restrictions, with the SNAP program, regarding acceptable food purchases, participants are buying soda, chips, candy and other unhealthy foods. There is a great need to impose healthier nutrition standards that would exempt purchases of unhealthy “junk” foods such as soda, chips and candy using government assistance to help decrease childhood obesity.
To ban “junk” foods would be more of a due diligence than just educating. According to Nestle (2014), “Americans have gotten the word. Sodas in anything but small amounts are not good for health.” Laura Simpson, Rockbridge Area Free Clinic health assessor says, “Even if all low-income people had ready access to healthy food, obesity would still be a problem. The habits of generations die hard and you could hand them a box of vegetables and they don’t do vegetables.” All the while, many health professionals believe that educating the participants would be the more effective way to lower obesity rather than banning soda, chips and candy from the SNAP Program. Their belief is, it would not solve, eliminate, or lower the obesity dilemma, but if those options are readily available, no amount of education will change the way participants purchase their food.
What does it mean to be overweight or obese? According to the Nemours Foundation, (2011), “An overweight child is one that is over the healthy weight for their age and height.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2014b), defines obese “as having excess body fat. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period. In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight.” Child obesity rates are steadily increasing; (the above data, chart, was taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014c).
Pediatricians are troubled when it comes to childhood and adolescent obesity. What once was considered an adult health factor, recent studies have shown kids are showing signs of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. The mayo clinic staff, (2014), suggest to address and treat this problem now so it does not affect them in the future. They say children that grow up obese will continue the habit well into their adult years, causing a short life span. The Institute of medicine, (2011), also claims that, obesity in children is a serious matter in the U.S. that can persist as children grow older and can affect the quality and longevity of their adult lives. “Even the nation’s youngest children are at risk of becoming obese. Today, almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers carry excess weight for their length, and slightly more than 20 percent of children between the ages of two and five already are overweight or obese.” According to Keller, (2012), who spoke with Joanna Dolgoff, MD, a pediatrician; says that it is up to the