Childhood obesity is a problem in the United States. It affects a child’s life tremendously. Childhood obesity in school is an important subject for one to learn about. People who have children or plan on having children need to know the risks that are involved in this disorder. Childhood obesity is a serious problem for children but it can be worse in schools. School life is hard enough for a child to adjust; it is even harder for a child to deal with school and obesity at the same time. There are many aspects to how childhood obesity affects children in schools: it affects their learning abilities, it affects their social skills and their psychological well-being, and it also affects their health.
Childhood obesity is when a child has an excessive amount of body fat in relationship to lean body mass. Childhood obesity is sometimes a genetic disorder and sometimes an environmental situation issue. By genetics it means it can be given to the child by anyone in their family lineage. By environmental situation issues it means it is based on the foods a child eats, whether they exercise regularly, or by the habits they learn. Mass media also is a consideration in child obesity as advertisements can affect how a child wants to eat. Fast food companies attract many children just in their advertisements alone. The internet also affects children and they get to use the internet at school. They see advertisements online or play games online that make them not want to be active in everyday life. There are so many aspects to a child’s life that can lead to obesity and most of it starts at home but then overflows into the academic life of a child.
Children who are obese tend to have more health issues and the health concerns can affect their everyday school life. The regularity of childhood obesity is a public health concern. Childhood obesity is connected to a variety of detrimental health conditions including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease (Freedman, Diets, Srinivasan, and Berenson, 1999). The more health issues a child has the more it affects school life. Children with health concerns from obesity end up missing a number of days for being sick and that puts them behind in their school work. The time away from school leads to missed assignments and also less socialization time with peers.
Children who are obese tend to be sleepy and not be able to pay attention during classroom lectures. Overweight children also can have serious health issues now and as well in adult years; such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, bone and joint issues, and even sleep disorders which can affect every day routine (John, H., 2011). The problem of obesity is not contained than it will “surpass tobacco as the leading cause of death” (Bhattacharya 2004, p.1).
Childhood obesity affects children with their learning abilities in the classroom. Occasionally how a child is affected educationally by childhood obesity is not as obvious as the health concerns that arise from the obesity. Children who are obese tend to have low self-esteem and do not participate as well in class discussions. As new clinical practice guidelines are being developed to address childhood obesity, the reduction of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem associated with being overweight should also be considered in developing the guidelines (Cornette, 2008). It has not really been studied accurately or in excess but one would wonder if obesity would affect the brain because of lack of blood flow or just lack of healthiness. If the brain is hindered in any way then learning is definitely impacted.
Obese children have a hard time with the affects obesity has on their social skills and their psychological well-being. Being bullied is something that is a common occurrence with obese children. Obese children have a hard time socializing due to being picked on. They also get labeled with titles that sometimes do not fit them just because of their appearance: lazy, slouch, unattractive, and mean. Sometimes they actually get labeled as the bully because of their size when actually they are not. Obesity in children is also associated with an elevated risk of various psychosocial problems. Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to have behavioral problems and emotional disturbances (Stradmeijer, Bosch, Koops, and Seidell, 2000). Obesity limits students’ ability to excel in social and psychological problems, such as being bullied and low self-esteem. Obese children that are bullied can be very emotional or very quiet and hold everything in and that can lead to other problems as well.
Results from a small-scale study of 106 obese children, between the ages of 5 and 18, revealed that obese students were often subject to teasing and ostracism, and that they reported having trouble keeping up with their peers, both physically and academically the emotional and social stress from being obese can be very hard on a child (Browman, Darcia Harris, 2003). Both as a parent or a student, all should understand the emotional and physical impacts that can cause great danger to an overweight child. Children with an inactive lifestyle, large at birth, with high-risk family health behaviors, and from a family with low income or low education attainment, were more likely to be obese.
Findings suggest that interventions targeting family and supporting people to implement lifestyle changes are promising to prevent childhood obesity (Brophy, Cooksey, Gravenor, Mistry, Thomas, Lyons & Williams, 2009). In addition, efforts appear to be focused on reducing weight, a small amount attention is directed to the psycho-socio-emotional effect that being overweight have on children. Studies are important because they show that childhood obesity is not only associated with health risk but also with problems in social interactions and relationships (Janssen, Craig, Boyce & Pickett, 2003).
Children that are obese also have a hard time doing some of the activities in school. When interviewing two teachers at Tennessee Ridge Elementary School and asking them about the effects of childhood obesity in their classrooms both had somewhat of the same answer. “Obese children have a harder time playing most of the physical activities I have planned that involve them getting up and down a lot” (Moore, 2012). As well as Mrs. Tomlinson (2012) stated that “children who are overweight seem to have a hard time getting up and down during our rug times and seem to have difficulty sitting in the crisscross position for more than a few minutes”. These students end up feeling like they are left out or feeling different than other children. They are also less likely to be able to keep up with the other children on the playground. This is where one runs into the situation of being picked last on the playground or just simply being left out. This leads to a lot of the other complications obese children face in schools.
There are many ways that the school system tries to help children stay fit and not have to battle obesity. One of the ways the schools try to help is by serving healthy lunches and snacks. They have also taken vending machines out of schools as much as possible. Also the schools try to ensure every child gets plenty of physical activity time and recess time. Teachers add activities that involve moving and being active in their curriculums; such as allowing children to sit on exercise balls while doing desk work and doing learning drills with physical activities. Exercising actually makes children less stressed and makes them focused on learning. “Young children who exercise at school perform better in concentration tests, researchers have said after a study on pupils in Aberdeen” (Williams, 2010).
Being active and watching what a child eats can significantly help children it also teaches them good habits that will benefit them later on in life as well. Another way children learn is by example and teachers can set an example for children as well as their parents can. For example, teachers are not allowed to carry soda cans around they have to put it in different containers if they are drinking soda at school. Even with the schools being involved it is important for parents to do the same at home. Most schools and communities offer health programs and exercise classes for parents and children. Children are at school as much as they are at home and so in order to help children with obesity it needs to be a joint effort.
Obesity is a serious situation and in children it is more serious. Obesity can affect a child a lot more than an adult because of all the social and emotional situations that arise that obese children are not ready to handle. Sometimes children cannot handle situations as well as adults can. The effects of childhood obesity can be very overwhelming to a child especially in the school environment. It is important for people to be aware of the effects of obesity in children and in the school system. Having obesity affect so much of a child’s school life can also interfere with their future. Obesity harmfully impacting academics should make parents, educators, and policy makers alike have an even greater incentive to curb the threat of obesity in this country.
Bhattacharya, S. (2004). Obesity to Surpass Tobacco as Top U.S. Killer. Retrieved fromwww.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4763. Boyce, W., PhD, Craig, W., PhD, Janssen, I., PhD, & Pickett, W., PhD (2003). Associations between overweight and obesity with bullying behaviors in school-aged children. PEDIATRICS , 113(1187), Retrieved from: pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/113/5/1187.full.html Brophy, S., Cooksey, R., Gravenor, M., Mistry, R., Thomas, N., Lyons, R., & Williams, R.(2009). Risk factors for childhood obesity at age 5: Analysis of the millennium Cohortstudy. BMC Public Health, 9(467), doi: 10.1 186/1471-2458-9-467 Browman, Darcia Harris, 2003. Child Obesity Hurts Emotional Health, Study Says. Education Week: Vol 22, Issue 32, p. 9.
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