Healthy People provide a 10-year national objective for improving the health of Americans. It has established benchmarks and monitored progress over time in order to encourage collaborations across the country, empowering individuals toward making knowledgeable health decisions, and measuring the impact of prevention activities. The vision is for a society in which all people live long and healthy lives. Objectives new to Healthy People 2020 are related to policies targeting young children through physical activity in childcare settings, television viewing and computer usage, recess and physical education in the Nation’s public and private elementary schools. Physical activity is important as it can improve health and quality of life for all, including those with disabilities. Increased physical activity in children and adolescents can improve bone health, cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, decrease levels of body fat and reduce symptoms of depression.
There is an epidemic of obesity among our children today, this is linked to the over use of computer games and television. Healthy People 2020 have set an objective that sets limits to screen time. It was rather interesting to me that the pediatrician informed me that my infant, now a toddler should not be watching television at all as recommended by the Journal of Pediatrics. As mentioned in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, there is a dangerous link found between childhood obesity and asthma (Rance, & O’Laughlen, 2011). A common assumption is that weight gain occurs because many asthmatic patients avoid exercise since physical activity can trigger their symptoms, though many contributing factors coexist (Rance, et. al., 2011). Interesting enough there has been a suggestion that overweight/obesity as a risk factor for developing asthma (Papoutsaakis, Priftis, Drakouli , Prifti, Konstantaki, Chondronikola, & Matziou, 2013).
As an adolescent I was diagnosed with having chronic asthma, as I was extremely active and not an overweight child. Physical activity was a normal part of my daily afterschool routine, I ran track, was a member of the swim team and was on the cheerleading squad. So having asthma one should not exclude physical activity from their life as it helps to prevent obesity and other ailments. A study illustrated that children were more adept at identifying healthy foods and explaining their benefits than identifying activities that make their bodies healthy (Lanigan, 2011). This study also discovered that the media was the primary source of children’s health knowledge. Parents need to become more involved and lead by example as it pertains to the health and welfare of their children. This is why I often volunteer for the various optimist clubs in the community, sharing information on the importance of staying active, hydrated and eating a well balanced diet.
I keep my kids in extracurricular activities such as sports, promoting physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. Early-learning professionals and parents need to play a more prominent role in teaching children about the benefits of healthy eating and activity (Lanigan, 2011). There has been a correlation between paternal influences on children’s weight gain, as a review demonstrated fathers who were overweight viewed themselves and their offspring as normal weight (Fraser, Skouteris, McCabe, Ricciardelli, Milgrom, & Baur, 2011). The children in this study were more likely to eat fast food, eat at fast pace, eat when bored and were less likely to eat dinner together as a family (Fraser, et al., 2011). As it was hard to discern whether these behaviors are a result of children modeling behaviors displayed by their fathers’, although the heavier the fathers were the greater the number of hours their children spent in sedentary activities such as watching television and using the computer (Fraser, et al., 2011).
One strategy not mentioned in Healthy People 2020 is mandating parent involvement and modeling, which I consider first line of defense for prevention of childhood obesity and related disease. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), builds on and strengthens the foundation for prevention and wellness established by Healthy People, the nation’s health promotion and disease prevention aspirations for a healthier nation (Fielding, Teutsch, & Koh, 2012). The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends making physical activity the easy choice by creating in our communities accessible parks and recreation; encouraging the social norm of walking, bicycling, and climbing stairs where these activities can reasonably substitute for driving and riding elevators or escalators; and placing greater emphasis on mass transit and mixed residential and commercial development to encourage greater spatial integration of places where people live, work and shop (Fielding, et al., 2012).
In conclusion, community based childhood obesity prevention programs with a school component focusing on both diet and physical activity is more effective at preventing obesity and overweight (Bleich, Segal, Wu, Wilson, & Wang, 2013). As previously mentioned one strategy not mentioned in Healthy People 2020 is mandating parent involvement and modeling, which I consider first line of defense for prevention of childhood obesity and related disease.
Bleich, S. N., Segal, J., Wu, Y., Wilson, R., & Wang, Y. (2013). Systematic review of community-based childhood obesity prevention studies. Pediatrics, 132(1), e201-e210. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0886 Fielding, J. E., Teutsch, S., & Koh, H. (2012). Health reform and healthy people initiative. American Journal of Public Health, 102(1), 30-33. doi:102105/AJPH.2011.300312 Fraser, J., Skouteris, H., McCabe, M., Ricciardelli, L. A., Milgrom, J., & Baur, L. A. (2011). Paternal influences on children’s weight gain: a system review. Fathering, 9(3), 252-267. doi:10.3149/fth.0903.252
Lanigan, J. D. (2011). The substance and sources of young children’s healthy eating and physical activity knowledge: implications for obesity prevention efforts. Child: Care, Health & Development, 37(3), 368-376. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01191.x Papoutsaakis, C., Priftis, K. N., Drakouli, M., Prifti, S., Konstantaki, E., Chondronikola, M., & Matziou, V. (2013). Childhood overweight/obesity and asthma: is there a link? a system review of recent epidemiologic evidence. Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(1), 77-105. doi10.1016/j.jand.2012.08.025 Rance, K., O’Laughlen, M. (2011). Obesity and asthma: a dangerous link in children: an integrative review of the literature. Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 7(4), 287-292. doi:10.1016/j.nurpra.2010.06.011