Child obesity has been a serious issue in America. Approximately a 1/3 of children populations are overweight or risk becoming overweight. Children are eating unhealthy foods with minimal nutritional value and the physical education programs are being cut of the school day. Since these are the major causes of obesity they spell doom for America. The Bill no S. 100 also known as Healthy Students Act of 2007 was introduced by Barbara Boxer the California Senator who is also an advocate of children and families.
It advocates for the health of children in schools by promoting better nutrition and increased physical activities. American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) support it. Major causes of obesity are lack of physical exercise combined with poor diet. A balance must be struck so that calorie intake does not outdo calorie utilization. Children need to burn up calories through physical activities. They should not over rely on inactive leisure activities like watching television, surfing the net and playing video games
Childhood obesity is associated to various health effects like hypertension, diabetes and respiratory diseases illnesses for instance diabetes and high blood pressure.
It is therefore an important national bill that will help save the children of America. However, its implementation could be delayed due to the legislative process that could take time. Again the taxpayers who are expected to fund it might oppose it.
The Healthy Students Act of 2007 Bill no S. 100 is a bill that encourages the healthy of children in schools by promoting better nutrition and increased physical activities. It is a national bill that was sponsored by Barbara boxer of CA on January 4th 2007. (www.govtrack.us)
The bill requires the establishment of a pilot program providing grants to school districts or non-profit organizations for use in promoting healthy food alternatives under the school lunch and school breakfast programs. It amends the Public Health Service Act to establish a student loan forgiveness program for nurses who agree to employment as full-time nurses in elementary or secondary schools for 3 complete years. It also amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow corporations a tax deduction for the charitable contribution to a private foundation of exercise or gymnasium equipment for use by elementary and secondary school students.
The proposed policy is a federal legislation to be enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation is very realistic and can therefore be successfully implemented. The federal government is expected to sponsor it. Currently it has been referred to the committee of finance and is in the process of deliberation. The proposal affects all people as it focuses on schools, which are heterogeneous in terms of gender, color or race. Members of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) who supported the Healthy School Act in New York State support the policy.
The American Diabetes Association is the nation’s leading 501(c) 3 non-profit health organization that provides diabetes research, information and advocacy. The American Heart Association is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to build healthier lives free from cardiovascular diseases and stroke. (www.americaheart.org) Barbara Boxer who introduced it supports it. She is the current senator of the state of California. She has been an advocate of children and family and it would suffice to say that she represents Californian as well as the children. The AHA and ADA represent the promotion of healthier lifestyles for children. They are concerned about the increased health risks associated with changing lifestyles for Americans and are focused to promote the good health of children.
To support their positions the three parties have their arguments. Senator Boxer proposed the bill because children are eating unhealthy foods with minimal nutritional value and the physical education programs are being cut of the school day. AHA is concerned with promoting healthy lifestyles and lowering cholesterol levels through diet and physical exercise as well as preventing children from having cholesterol related health problems when they grow into adulthood. Americans should not be surprised by this policy. First, obesity in children is an issue that has attracted their concern and the dietary guidelines provided have been amended from section 9(a) of Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C 1758 a))
This proposal is likely to be opposed by the local taxpayers. To fund proposal taxes may be imposed on them reducing their disposable incomes. Being forced to pay higher taxes may see them oppose the bill. Costs would be incurred as the programs to grow own food in schools and hiring of more physical education teachers would be incorporated. Another challenge that the bill faces is the legislative process, which may delay. The committees may reject them for instance the senate finance may hinder its proceeding from one position to the next.
Obesity among children has been increasing at alarming rates. People have adapted sedentary lifestyles and are not keen on the nutritional requirements of food. Convenience plays an important role in determining the food that one consumes. Approximately a 1/3 of children populations are overweight or risk becoming overweight. Childhood obesity is associated to various health effects like hypertension, diabetes and respiratory diseases.
The major cause of obesity is lack of physical exercise combined with poor diet. (www.mayoclinic.com). A balance must be struck so that calorie intake does not outdo calorie utilization. Although obesity in children affects people of all races, gender or color it has been observed that Africa American and Mexican American children are more likely to be overweight compared to non-Hispanic whites. It therefore suffices to say that people of color or the minority groups are more affected by obesity. Children of poor families are also more likely to be obese.
Regular consumption of pre-packaged food, fast food, soft drinks can cause obesity as they have quantities of calories and sugars. Consumption of vegetables and legumes is beneficial as they can help check on weight and cardiovascular diseases. Children are a critical population that needs more nutrients than human beings for their growth and development. Improving on the diet and exercising levels can help protect children’s health both at the current levels and in future. (Www.mayoclinic.com).
Physical exercises help burn out excess calories in the body. This helps reduce chances of acquiring illnesses for instance diabetes and high blood pressure. They also contribute to healthy bones and muscles. Children need to burn up calories through physical activities. (www.kidshealth.org). They should not over rely on inactive leisure activities like watching television, surfing the net and playing video games. Families must play an important role in ensuring that their children stay healthy. Parents have a major role to play in influencing their children’s health. Parents are responsible for shopping and cooking in their homes and they determine the lifestyles to be adapted.
They also set examples of the eating patterns as well as exercising patterns that to be adopted by their children. Parents should engage their children parents should engage their children in physical activities like swimming and jogging while at the same time ensuring that they provide healthy diets. Incorporating fruits and vegetables in their diets will be beneficial. Parents can also ensure that their children take food that is enough or that they eat with moderation.
The Mayo Clinic website section on childhood explains the signs, causes and problems that are associated with childhood obesity. It also provides ways by which families can control and prevent obesity in children. (www.mayoclinic.com). Another important website that addresses the costs and consequences that obese children face as well as their potential future with obesity and the weight related health care issue is the Junk Food Science. The Kids Health website provides important in-depth information to parents on how they should maintain their children’s health. It addresses the issues related to childhood obesity and its effects. Obesity in America organization website addresses the obesity issues. It focuses more on medical reasons for obesity.
Obesity in children increases their healthcare expenditure compared to non-obese children. Obese children are more likely to have laboratory-screening tests as medical staff belief that they are at greater risks. Their blood pressure levels or lab values for cholesterol are higher than for normal healthy children translating to the increased costs.
They are screened for blood pressure, sleep apnea and orthopedic abnormalities. (Junkfoodscience.blogspot.com).
Advocacy groups that can be useful in combating obesity in the US include the Endocrine society and The Hormone foundation. The Endocrine society is the world’s largest and most active professional organization of endocrinologists in the world and it is dedicated to promoting excellence in research, education and clinical advancements in the endocrinology field. The hormone foundation is an affiliate of the endocrine society and its very important in disseminating information. It has established programs on childhood or pediatric obesity. It works hand in hand with the Congress and Federal agencies that impact policies dealing with obesity. (www.obesityinamerica.org).
Parents should be create time to prepare nutritious foods for their children. They should not opt for the quick fix that can harm their children’s health. Obese children can have problems with their self esteem as they can be teased or bullied by their classmates. Obesity in children causes psychological problems to them.
Overweight children can have bone and joint problems. They increase their chances of developing asthma and they can experience shortness of breath making physical activities more difficult. They have restless or disordered sleep patterns that can affect their development. Tendency to mature earlier is also reported in overweight children and overweight girls tend to have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems in their later days. A stitch in time saves nine and adverse overweight effects can be counted if appropriate measures are taken.
Schools have contributed to the increased numbers of obese and overweight children in America. Lesser time is allocated to physical education programs and some schools have cut it altogether. Sedentary lifestyles in children have consequently aggravated. Although genetics may contribute to obesity in children, the impact may be reduced if physical exercises and strict dietary measures are followed. It could be difficult to establish if an obese child born of obese parents is obese due to the genetic factor or due to the family lifestyles. (Www.kidshealth.org).
Parents should set good examples by adhering to appropriate diets as well as participating in exercises. They should not reward good behavior with sweets as they have high sugar levels. Educating the children about the importance of healthy diets is necessary. Children could rebel if ultimate elimination of sweets, snacks or candies is done. They could find ways to access such foods in absence of their parents. Again imposing a specific physical activity on them should be avoided and a variety should be included.
The media plays an important role in favoring ‘unhealthy food’. children who see people favoring foods in fast foods or in cartoon shows have the mentality that such food is appropriate. They urge their parent’s to offer them such foods.
Children should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They also ought to get 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercises each day depending on their age. (www.kidshealth.org). Grains provide energy needs for the child and includes whole meal bread, cereals and pasta. They give children energy to play and carry out important activities. Vegetables provide minerals and vitamins needed for good health. They also provide fiber that is important in aiding digestion. Milk is important as it provides vitamin A, D, calcium and proteins. Fats should be used sparingly on children. (Www.kidshealth.org)
Although the bill might never make it out of the committee or could be revised and incorporated in an already existing bill, I think this is a very applicable policy that can help save American children the consequences of obesity. Disseminating proper information to people through the media can work to curb child obesity. People should also take their own initiative to fight child obesity.
Mayo Clinic staff. 2007. Childhood obesity. Retrieved on 23rd February 2008 from
Sandy Szwarc. 2007. Retrieved on 23rd February 2008 from
Endocrine Society and The Hormone Foundation. 2008.Retrieved on 23rd February 2008 from http://www.obesityinamerica.org/aboutus.html
The Nemours Foundation. 2008. Kids Health. Retrieved on 23rd February 2008 from http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/
GovTrack.US. 2008. S. 100: Healthy Students Act of 2007. Retrieved on 23rd February 2008 from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s110-100