Childhood Obesity Not Improving: Time for Action
Over the last several decades, research findings have continued to verify the rising rates of childhood obesity around the world. Study after study has revealed the health of our youth deteriorating right before our eyes. At the end of every study, suggestions are made to get our kids active. The surgeon general has recommended 60 minutes of daily vigorous activity. The Ontario school board has created 20 minute daily activity booklets for teachers to use in the classroom. After school programs are rampant among all schools in developed countries. With all of this support, why are childhood obesity rates still so high? The bottom line is that despite all of the recommendations made, we continue to fall short in the application of the information and findings. Much of the reports and media coverage simply act as lip service. All talk and no action.
As reported last week in Medical News Today, one fifth of children in England are either obese or overweight when they start school at age four or five, and one in three children are overweight or obese in the lead-up to secondary school at age 10 or 11. Similar staggering statistics are reported about youth in Canada and the United States.
The good news is that there is plenty of evidence that when we implement pilot projects that include nutrition and exercise programs in our schools, positive results are found. Until these pilot projects are incorporated into the daily curriculum of all schools, childhood obesity will remain an epidemic.
What Needs to be Done?
We need to walk the talk, immediately. We know enough about what needs to be done and how to do it. At schools, the daily activity binders are present but are rarely used as curriculum planners continue to cram the workload for teachers. Parents are busy working and fulfilling family obligations. All of these excuses are simply leading our children down the same unhealthy path.
The old way is not working. It's time to shake up the curriculum and prioritize exercise. School board decision makers need to bring in fitness and health professionals to work with kids and show teachers how to implement proper exercise intensity and practical nutrition plans into the daily routine.
Prioritize your kids' health. Get them off the couch and moving at a high intensity. Get help with a family meal plan designed by a nutritionist or registered dietitian.
What if an informal agreement was made between parents and teachers to ensure kids accumulate 30 minutes of vigorous activity at both home and school? Schools boards, teachers and parents must all take responsibility and stop passing the buck.