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The Role of Schools in Childhood Obesity Prevention

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The Role of Schools in Childhood Obesity Prevention

The future adults that American's rely on are not healthy. The youth today have a big problem; they are becoming obese at a rate faster than ever. As smoking, crime, and victimization rates continue to decrease, obesity has become the most common heath problem facing young people today (McKay & Duran, 2007). The day of sitting down and eating a fresh family dinner has been replaced with fast food, processed foods, or snacks. The pace of society, technology, and video games has overtaken the time of children walking or biking to school and playing outside. Overall, children are eating more calories, eating less fruits and vegetables, and moving less; creating an epidemic that needs to be addressed immediately.

With childhood obesity rates currently on the rise, hindering the health and well being of children and placing additional financial strain on the health care system, it is imperative to teach children proper nutrition and how to stay physically fit. Kids will learn to make healthful food and drink choices if they have access to them and are motivated to do so. This research investigates how improving the quality of the food available to children during school, increasing their physical activity, and gaining the involvement of school officials are critical strategies in the reduction and prevention of childhood obesity.

Obesity is considered excess body fat, typically measured by body mass index, which screens if a person is normal weight, overweight, or obese. Children's body mass index adjusts weight for height, sex, and age because of the changes that can occur during growth and development. Growth charts created by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are used to calculate children's body mass index. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states children or adolescents with a body mass index between the 85th and 94th percentiles are considered overweight and anyone at or above 95 percent are considered obese. The prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing rapidly. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (2008) reports, "In the last thirty years the percentage of obese children ages 6-11 has doubled, while the rate for adolescents is even more shocking, tripling since 1980" (p. 2). Children with a body mass index that falls above the 85th percentile are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high cholesterol or blood pressure. These children could also experience joint problems, sleep apnea, social, and self-esteem problems.

Historically, childhood obesity trends began to rapidly change around 1980, therefore researchers are looking into common environmental changes that may have contributed to the epidemic from 1980-1988 and continue into the current year. Researchers found several contributing factors, with some standing out

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