School-based Prevention of Childhood Obesity
With half of all school-age children (age 2-19) identified as Obese or Overweight (Institute for Alternative Futures, 2008, p. 1) the issue of unhealthy weight has become a critical concern. The market has failed to foster among children the habits required to maintain healthy weight. Therefore, it is essential that the local schools implement programs designed to reduce this occurrence. Specifically, the school district should focus on:
1) healthy eating education,
2) physical activity among students,
3) an emphasis on nutrition in meals offered to students.
Obesity is widely recognized as one of the USA's leading ...view middle of the document...
3) Families do not have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables: Living in communities without access to fresh foods limits the ability of parents to provide nutritious meals for their children, and this lack of access disproportionately affects minority and low-income families. In one study, fruit and vegetable consumption among
4) Children do not have healthy eating habits: The 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that only 9.5 percent of students eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Healthy eating habits are impacted not only by choice but by access to healthy foods in a child’s community and school.
(Center for the Study of Social Policy, 2011)
The most current Minnesota statistics published by the Center for Disease Control indicate that in 2010, 25.4 percent of Minnesota adults were obese and 37.7 percent were overweight. (Center for Disease Control - Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, 2011). Combining the rates for overweight and obese adults gives a total of 63.1% of their total population of 5,303,925 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), or over 3 million people with an increased risk of life-threatening health conditions.
This problem is not limited to adults, in its 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative found that 12% of children (age 10-17) were overweight and 11.1% obese. (Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, 2007). This means that up to 150,000 young people may be at risk of developing serious medical conditions.
The problem of overweight children is worsening rapidly across all ethnic groups and social classes, reaching an alarming level. The percentage of overweight children has more than doubled in the last 20 years. This increase is seen at a higher rate among children from lower-income and minority families (Stanford Prevention Research Center, 2011).
In our modern society, market forces favor behaviors based upon short-term preferences over those based upon long-term preferences. For example, consumption and inactivity are favored over healthy weight; this is especially true for children. The market has failed to promote the attainment healthy social and individual goals. Definitively, childhood obesity is caused by a serious market failure. In the new society, children are allowed to make food and activity choices in their own “best”, which is obviously flawed. (Moodie R, 2006)
In this context, a public intervention is needed in order to correct this market failure. Since the public institutions with the most involvement in the lives of children are the public schools, the responsibility falls squarely on the school district to address this problem.
Why is it a problem?
Clearly obesity has a negative impact on the health and well-being of individuals; in addition there are clear economic impacts on the broader community. In a study of 2003 health costs, prepared for the Research Triangle...