Running head NUTRITION IN SCHOOLS
NUTRITION IN SCHOOLS 2
Nutrition in Schools
Nutrition in Schools
The children are the future of this great nation. As such, it is important that adequate attention and consideration is put into ensuring the future of the nation is secured. The growing incidences of child obesity should thus, be considered a threat to the future of the country. One is termed as being obese when they have a body mass percentage that is at and/ or goes over the 95th percentile of the CDC sex specific BMI charts. As a nurse, I feel that there is immediate need to address the matter of childhood obesity and nip it in the bud before it grows and becomes an even more troublesome issue. According to a report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently, approximately 13.7 million children aged between the ages of 2 and 19 suffered from obesity (CDC, 2018). These numbers are very alarming especially seeing that there is an anticipated increase. The purpose of this paper is to communicate the author’s desire to implement policies in schools that will help manage and eventually reduce the prevalence of obesity in the nation by proposing solutions to the problem.
The Problem of Obesity
The food an individual consumes plays an important role in shaping their health. As such, it is very worrying when children continue to feed on heavily processed foods that are not nutritionally beneficial to them. Child obesity, just like adult obesity, is caused by the consumption of high-calorie foods and beverages that are lacking essential nutrients. This, paired with living a sedentary lifestyle, increases the chances of becoming overweight and eventually, obese (Dawes, 2014).
Obese children have very many health risks including, high cholesterol as well as high blood pressure which makes them susceptible to developing heart conditions, breathing problems such as asthma, joint problems; they may also develop mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Childhood obesity also negatively impairs the child’s social development and ability to associate properly with their peers. This is due to the feelings of low self-esteem they may develop as a result of being jeered at by other children because of their weight. They become anxious about whether they will be socially accepted by their age mates and conclude that they will not be. As a result, they end up isolating themselves and if this is left unaddressed, they may become depressed (Halfon, Larson & Slasser, 2016). When this children grow up to become adults, they are at risk of even more health problems such as adult obesity which brings with it even more serious health conditions such as risk of developing Diabetes type 2, Heart disease as well as cancer. According to CDC, when child obesity is left to advance into adulthood, the risks and consequences are even more severe (CDC, 2016).
After gathering the above information, I was more motivated than ever to advocate for an improvement in the matter of child obesity. Believing that there was a need for the topic to be extensively discussed, I opted to contact the State House Representative, Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones to address the issue. In planning my visit, the first thing I did was obtain information about the prevalence of child obesity. I then proceeded to look for people in the community who shared my sentiments and also hoped to live in a community with healthier children who grew up to become healthier adults who positively impacted the communities in which they grew up and live in. The contacts obtained included school principals, concerned parents and medical practitioners. I emailed the State House Representative giving detailed information of current numbers, an overview of my plan as well my anticipated costs and challenges. I received a response email the next day acknowledging that indeed child obesity is a problem that needed to be addressed and a meeting was scheduled. Anxious over the impending meeting, I prepared myself by conducting extensive research on the topic so as not to be unprepared for any questions that might be asked. On the day of the meeting, I introduced myself and expressed gratitude at being granted the sit down. I also expressed my desire to make policy changes that would help reduce the number of child obesity and that will see to it nutrition in schools is improved.
Mr. Jones inquired after the writer’s proposed solutions. The solutions given included the situation of a dietitian in schools to help in the decision making of issues related to children’s nutrition. The dietitian should be tasked with ensuring school menus are suited to ensure children consume healthy meals. Seeing that a nutritionist is well trained in matters health, they will be well equipped to ensure the children engage in physical exercises to help combat the growing cases of children living sedentary lifestyles. The establishment and adaptation of physical education programs in schools will also play an important role in improving physical activity engaged in by children. The other proposed solution was that extensive civic education should be conducted to educate the masses on the dangers of child obesity and the consequences it brings with it. This will help enlighten parents on the measures they can take in their homes to ensure their children are healthy and also help them improve on the foods allow their children to consume. The writer also proposed the adaptation of gardening in schools to help schools grow their own foods which will reduce the consumption of inorganic processed foods. By growing foods used to feed the students, schools will be ensuring the children consume nutritious meals. Also of importance is the adaptation of a national lunch program where children will be provided with lunch in schools. This will help ensure the instances of children carry unhealthy snacks to schools in reduced.
The writer, recognizing the power of effective communication in conveying messages, came up with communication strategies such as phone conversations for when the Secretary is unable to make a face to face meeting, emails, video chats to amplify the personal touch found in face to face conversations, and visual cues such as the use of charts, diagrams and presentations to effectively communicate the extent of the issue being discussed. The writer acknowledged the existence of many communication strategies but remains convinced that the most preferable is a face to face meeting since it has the benefit of conveying immediate feedback through the use of body language and it also helps in the communication of issues that, if communicated using other means would have been misinterpreted.
In conclusion, the matter of child obesity is one that should be addressed with the seriousness it deserves. When policies are put in place to improve the nutrition in schools, the results will be that there will be more healthy children who will grow up to become healthy adults. Schools should also endeavor to provide quality equipment that will ensure the safety of children when they are engaging in physical activity. By also including parents in the discussion of child obesity, there will be assurance that efforts made in schools are not futile since they will be complimented by that made by parents in their homes by ensuring they give their children healthy meals. Dietitians will play a core role of making decisions pertaining to school’s nutrition that will reflect positively on the future generation’s health. Cultivation of crops will not only ensure the students consume healthy meals but will also help in the reduction of costs used to purchase foodstuff.
Centre for Disease Control and prevention. (2018). Childhood Obesity Facts. cdc.gov. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html Accessed 31 July 2018
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Childhood Obesity Causes & Consequences.cdc.gov. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html Accessed 31 July 2018.
Dawes, L. (2014). Childhood obesity in America. Harvard University Press.
Halfon, N., Larson, K., & Slusser, W. (2013). Associations between obesity and comorbid mental health, developmental, and physical health conditions in a nationally representative sample of US children aged 10 to 17. Academic pediatrics, 13(1), 6-13.
Orbera. (2018). The Growing Problem of Childhood Obesity. Orbera.gov. Available at https://www.orbera.com/childhood-obesityAccessed 31 July 2018