Educational Editorial: Childhood obesity & schools

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Last week we talked about childhood obesity. Our focus was primarily on the family and the impact of role models on this epidemic among children. Today let's look on what schools can do.

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, obesity among 6-11 year olds has doubled in the past twenty years; it's tripled for those ages 12-19. The risk factors include heart disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological issues. We know the pain that can be inflicted on young people who are overweight.

As we prepare for the school year please give these strategies some thought. Initiate discussions about health and nutrition. Establish a school health councilor that will give the issues more visibility. Review your school health policies and develop a plan for improvement. Encourage high quality health promotion programs for the staff.

Review the content of your health courses. Increase the opportunities for your students to engage in physical activates. Look at school meals and plan for improvement. It's so easy for some to make school lunches the culprit.

But teachers are no longer permitted as mine were to say "Billy, your sit there until you eat your peas." Instead of serving school groups we ask what children want or it goes in the trash can. Having conducted bag surveys, the stuff that typically comes from home is worse than anything we serve at school. What food groups are represented by chips, cookies and a frozen soft drink?

Childhood obesity must be tackled together: home and school. What's cute today may be a killer tomorrow.

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