In many countries, especially the United States, behaviors leading to poor health start early in life. The three “leading causes of preventable death in the United States are smoking, obesity, and alcohol abuse” (Science Daily, 2006). Along with these problems, “a lack of exercise, drug abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases were prominent in young adults” (Science Daily, 2006). Some reasons for these problems are children and young adults spending more time inside playing video games and watching television instead of going outside to play or to participate in a sport.
Often young adults are left to take care of themselves after school and during the summer vacation, and their diets tend to suffer. Smoking, alcohol use, and drug use are all glorified in movies and on television, and some young people feel that they need to copy those actions to make themselves “cool” in the eyes of others. Insufficient sexual education at home and at school contributes to disease and unwanted pregnancy. To change these behaviors, more must be done to teach children to take care of their bodies.
Even a small child can be taught to enjoy good foods, at the very least in school lunches, and can be taught that playing is more fun than watching television. Because some children live in areas where outside play is limited, schools and non profit organizations should step in and offer plenty of physical education and after school activities. After school activities and school vacation programs can also help with the drug, alcohol, and smoking problems. Having good role models demonstrate clean lifestyles and teach the dangers of harmful activities may cause some children to never start them.
Finally, sex education must be provided in some form before children feel the urges to become sexually active. Programs that teach young people how difficult it is to care for a child and how devastating a sexually transmitted disease can be, and in some cases how deadly they can be, need to start early and be carried through all the years of schooling. Children must be made aware of how special their bodies are, and how they can carefully tend to them to make them strong, healthy, and last for a long time. The earlier they can be taught this, the less poor health there will be in the United States.