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 at what schools can do.
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Obesity among 6-11 years olds has doubled in the past twenty years...it has tripled for those ages 12 to 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 council that will give the issue some 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 activities
--Look at school meals and plan for improvement
It is so easy for some to simply make school lunches the culprit. But teachers are no longer permitted, as mine were, to say, "Billy, you will sit there until you eat your peas." Instead of serving "food groups", we ask children what they want...or it goes in the trashcan.
Having conducted "bag surveys", the stuff that typically comes from home is worse that anything served at school...what food groups are represented by chips, cookies and a frozen soft drink? Childhood obesity must be tackled together... home and the school. What is cute today, may be a killer tomorrow.