The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the financial cost of childhood obesity tips the scale at 3 billion dollars annually. Children of all ages need to engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis and become informed about proper nutrition benefits with the support of their parents. Physical education, provided from school, is an ideal way to encourage activity and develop fitness among children and, for many children, will be their only preparation for an active lifestyle.
For this reason, the CDC, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), and the American Heart Association all recommend comprehensive daily physical education for children K-12. Obesity itself is a problem, but it also contributes to many other health issues. The obese children of this country are now at risk for many other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular problems, and may become obese adults if the problem is not managed.
According to the Surgeon General Report (2010) over weight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults; which then puts them at risk for a number of health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.
The Surgeon General Report (2010) also states that children perceived as overweight suffer from social discrimination, meaning they have poor self-esteem and depression. A solution to keep children from becoming overweight, obese, or to reduce obesity is to generate a before or after school exercise program including nutrition information.
Parents need to become involved as well.
Children should be assigned 60 minutes of physical activity and a nutrition information sheet for homework every day. A binder must be developed so the parents and children can log their activity and keep track of their nutrition information. To help keep the children and parents interested and knowledgeable about exercise and nutrition the schools can hold a before or after school sessions for parents and children to attend if the they would feel more comfortable being instructed versus on their own.
Families can either plan at home activities to meet the requirements, or attend the school’s program where they will have a safe environment to exercise. The CDC (2010) recommends giving a child a safe environment in which they can play actively and be encouraged to swim, bike, skate, and play sports. Physical activity before or after school should provide opportunities for all students, including those with disabilities, to practice what they’ve learned in physical education, work towards the nationally recommended 60+ minutes of daily moderate-vigorous physical activity, and prepare the brain for learning.
Additional benefits include social interaction and engagement of students in safe, supervised activities. The Department of Health and Human Services (2008) recommend that children’s activity time include moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and bone-strengthening exercises, and that young people should be encouraged to participate in age-appropriate, enjoyable, and diverse activities. There are many examples of physical activity, including not only team sports but also walking, biking, swimming, hiking, dancing, gardening, and many other group or individual activities.
Recreational activities enjoyable to youth help ensure that they continue to engage in those activities. Outdoor activities can be enjoyed in a variety of locations and are often less expensive, more accessible, and can foster life-long activity. To accommodate all children’s needs and desires for physical activity the school can link their activities with the other local programs at various locations such as the YMCA, girls/boys scouts, boys and girls clubs, etc… The children will gain a self-motivation to become a healthy life-long active individual.
This program can reduce the rates of overweight and obese children around the world. Much of the world has become sedentary due to new technologies and the busyness of the world. The program will help children learn the importance of physical activity and help them feel and act more energetic. They will start to learn and implement a healthy lifestyle that they will be able to carry on to adulthood. The persons who implement and agree upon this program will help to keep children safe and will benefit from assisting them to improve their lifestyles and help prevent and reduce obesity.
The program will be successful because it will allow the overweight and obese children to be more active which can help aide in weight loss. By teaching them these behaviors all through their school age they will learn the behaviors and hopefully prevent obesity as an adult and all the other associated health problems. The Surgeon General Report (2010) says that it is recommended for Americans to accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week for children, and even greater amounts may be necessary for the prevention of weight gain, for weight loss, or sustaining weight loss.
Many schools do not have the funds to support a physical education program. There are numerous grants that provide funds to schools in need of these programs. Many of the organizations are non-profit groups while others are run by the state or federal government. Some of the grants are: Carol M. White Physical Education Program, PTA Healthy Lifestyles, Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60, and ING Run For Something Better School Awards Program.
Aside from grants schools can also advertise for professional volunteers to help assist with exercise and nutrition classes held before or after school to educate the children and parents. As childhood obesity rates climb, attention is being directed towards school lunches as a possible solution to the problem. Even if children are provided vegetables and fruits, many children won’t eat them unless they’ve been over-steamed, which drains nutrients, and many fruits are in sugary syrups.
The healthy options given at lunch time can’t simply be forced onto the children’s plates because it will just end up in the garbage. But that’s where the nutrition education portion comes in. Teaching children about the dangers of being overweight and being afflicted with childhood obesity, and letting them come to terms with it if they are, is an essential step in the right direction. Changing the school lunches and the vending machines to healthier foods will help in reducing obesity, but these overweight and obese children need more than just a healthy option for lunch and a snack.
They need lifestyle changes that carry on to adulthood which includes education on how to choose the right foods for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner as well as participating in physical activity on a daily basis. Children should have several opportunities to be active throughout the week and year round. Activity should be a normal part of a child’s day, from walking or biking to and from school, where appropriate, to participating in a physical education class, to engaging in active games during recess, after school, or in the summer at home, in a park, or on a playground.
All children benefit and gain enjoyment from physical activity, regardless of ability or disability status, gender, or athletic inclinations and talents. The benefits of physical activity extend beyond childhood too young people who grow up physically active more likely to be active adults. Likewise, young people who feel supported by friends and families or are surrounded by others interested in physical activity are more likely to participate in both structured and non-structured activities. These social areas are powerful in determining children’s actions.