Let’s Move!

childhood-obesity

Childhood obesity is something that we hear about frequently, especially since the First Lady Michelle Obama began her “Let’s Move” program to encourage being active. We see children who struggle with obesity everyday. Despite this, when I saw the percentages that showed the severity of the situation, I was shocked. According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17% (or 12.5 million) of kids and adolescents aged 2 – 19 years in the United States are now obese. Obesity in children is determined if a child’s body mass index is above the 95th percentile of children the same age and sex. The fact that 12.5 million children’s BMIs are higher than 95% of their peers makes people wary of the future. If these obese children grow up to be obese adults, then the likelihood of them having obese children themselves someday is high. Obesity has a tendency to act as a cycle that is very difficult to end.

A slew of dangerous health risks accompany obesity. It can lead to type II diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. These are serious health problems that are typically life long battles. It is devastating that some children are experiencing this already. Along with the health issues, there are emotional problems that obesity can cause in young people. It takes a toll on self esteem, and some children experience harassment from peers. This can have a negative effect on school work and social development in children.

The thing that made me most sad about the situation is the fact that the majority of these children have very little control of what is happening to them. Some children were never taught what is healthy to eat and what isn’t. In some cases, children are overweight or obese because of their parents’ income level or the community that they live in. “The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese. (letsmove.gov)” It seems wrong that the health of children can be predetermined by the amount of money they are born into. The cost of food in today’s economy reflects this though. It becomes cheaper to run through a drive through and buy a dollar menu hamburger than to spend the money and energy to make a healthy meal.

Luckily, children can make a comeback from obesity. Which is what the First Lady’s program is all about. The five pillars of her michelle-obama-lets-movejpg-b3d4cb99280622b2initiative are creating a healthy start for children; empowering parents and caregivers; providing healthy food in schools; improving access to healthy, affordable foods; and increasing physical activity. The Let’s Move initiative provides people with healthy alternatives to their lifestyles at home and at school, and reaches out to children and their parents. This is a problem that has gotten increasingly worse over three decades, and won’t change over night. Fortunately, it is a problem that has also attracted attention as well. With the White House heading the movement, the goal to get rid of obesity becomes much more attainable.

 

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity

http://www.letsmove.gov

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/08/childhood-obesity-rates-increased_n_5111922.html

 

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