Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3 Overlooked Facts in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Background:

It is no secret that childhood obesity has been affecting young children in our society for decades. Our schools have worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide foods to our children in the hope of preventing childhood obesity, but to no avail. Many families also practice healthy eating and provide good examples for their children. However, independently both entities are failing in their attempt to combat overweight in children. "Therefore, policy makers and [parents] should work in partnership to consider the evaluation of new policies prior to implementation" (Williams et al., 2015). It is imperative that, to fight against childhood obesity, home and school team up in order to help kids make intelligent dietary decisions.

Alternative

When home and school make wise food choices, especially in implementing "whole-grains" and eliminating "refined grains" (Woo Baidal & Taveras, 2014), these decisions can impact our children's health positively in terms of weight maintenance. The children's environment should be saturated with good food choices without the opportunity to make wrong choices. The conflicting choices children make relating to their diet are due to the inconsistencies in the types of foods provided both at home and at school. Lobstein et al. (2015) state, "The more an environment consistently promotes healthy behaviour, the greater the likelihood that such behaviour will occur." If both home and school consistently provide healthy choices, the children's taste buds will be programmed to want the right foods at an early age. Then the "obesity epidemic" (Fung et al., 2012) over our children "by the age of 5 years" (Cunningham, Kramer, & Narayan, 2014) will be reduced.

1) Saturate the children's environment with good food choices.

Influence

Intelligent food choices made by parents and school officials can prove beneficial to helping children make wise choices themselves. Under the care of their elders, children mimic behaviors, whether right or wrong. When adults make dietary decisions, it is important to note that the children are watching and are ready to model their behavior. Our decisions drive their decisions. For instance, children should never be presented with the opportunity to choose between "carbonated drinks . . . [and] healthy fruit juices" (Karnik & Kanekar, 2012). At least not during childhood as it puts the children in a compromising situation. The mere fact that they are presented with carbonated drinks, in their minds, means it is acceptable. Children presented with a range of healthy choices from the start will not have to be forced to choose unappealing healthy foods which can lead to avoidance behaviors (Hanks, Just, & Wansink, 2013).

Effortless Effort

Without the right people (at home and school) teaming up to reduce childhood obesity, every effort made by a single influence will not work. Policies made at the school "level of influence" (Williams et al., 2015) without parents on board will not succeed because after all is said and done at school, children will go home where poor foods choices are potentially available. As the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) teams up with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) "to improve students’ nutritional intake," parents should also be a part of this team since they are responsible for their children's dietary needs outside of school (Taber, Chriqui, Powell, & Chaloupka, 2013).

2) Team up the right people (home and school).

Who Should care?

Childhood obesity should be every caretaker's concern. Wise decisions need to be made regarding children's diet in order to remediate the issue. Schools, in their effort to solve this problem, have only worsened it. Many families, as well, are concerned about the quality of the foods they provide for their children. Apart from each other, home and school have not been able to resolve the issue of childhood weight gain. However, collaboration between the two may help children make wise food choices. The partnership will also eliminate every opportunity for conflicting choices if healthy choices are consistently provided at school and at home.

3) Make wise decisions regarding the children's diet.


You're probably wondering...

What Does Food Have to Do with Finding Identity in Christ? Well! Everything! The mere fact that what the children eat affects their mental ability to function is cause for concerns. When the food they eat causes their body to malfunction that's because the brain itself is malfunctioning. And if the brain malfunctions they cannot discern spiritual things. White (1864) states,  "The health of the mind is dependent upon the health of the body.  [Tweet "As Christian parents . . . in order to strengthen in them . . . the love of spiritual things, we"] must regulate the manner of our living, dispense with animal food, and use grains, vegetables, and fruits, as articles of food" (p. 20).


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References

Cunningham, S. A., Kramer, M. R., & Narayan, K. V. (2014). Incidence of childhood obesity in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 370(5), 403-411. Fung, C., Kuhle, S., Lu, C., Purcell, M., Schwartz, M., Storey, K., & Veugelers, P. J. (2012). From “best practice" to" next practice": the effectiveness of school-based health promotion in improving healthy eating and physical activity and preventing childhood obesity. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 1. Hanks, A. S., Just, D. R., & Wansink, B. (2013). Smarter lunchrooms can address new school lunchroom guidelines and childhood obesity. The Journal of Pediatrics, 162(4), 867-869. Karnik, S., & Kanekar, A. (2012). Childhood obesity: a global public health crisis. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3(1), 1-7. Lobstein, T., Jackson-Leach, R., Moodie, M. L., Hall, K. D., Gortmaker, S. L., Swinburn, B. A., & et al. (2015). Child and adolescent obesity: part of a bigger picture. The Lancet, 385(9986), 2510-2520. Taber, D. R., Chriqui, J. F., Powell, L., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2013). Association between state laws governing school meal nutrition content and student weight status: implications for new USDA school meal standards. JAMA Pediatrics, 167(6), 513-519. White, E. G. (1864). An appeal to mothers. Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association. Williams, A. J., Henley, W. E., Williams, C. A., Hurst, A. J., Logan, S., & Wyatt, K. M. (2013). Systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between childhood overweight and obesity and primary school diet and physical activity policies. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(1), 1. Woo Baidal, J. A., & Taveras, E. M. (2014). Protecting progress against childhood obesity—the National School Lunch Program. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(20), 1862-1865.