I am writing to you as the parent of two Caesar Rodney School District students and a Registered Nurse currently pursuing a BSN through the University of Phoenix. I understand we share an interest in promoting healthy eating habits and providing nutritious meals for the children attending school within the Caesar Rodney School District. I commend you for instituting a child nutrition program and the addition of the Caesar Rodney High School Wellness Center providing for student’s health needs. Therefore, I trust you will share my concern regarding childhood obesity.
The United Nations Health Decade has partnered with the World Health Organization in acknowledging the epidemic of obesity as a global issue, affecting both adults and children. In an effort to improve global health, the UN Global Health Decade has established Millennium Development Goals to reduce death and disease worldwide. The threat to health caused by obesity is rapidly growing within the United States and other developed countries. Obesity is so widespread and commonplace; it has replaced the conventional threats to global health once held by malnutrition and infectious disease.
More than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). The unhealthy lifestyles and lack of nutritional knowledge is being passed down from obese adults to their children. Therefore, childhood obesity has become more prevalent, jeopardizing the health of future adults. According to the U. S. Surgeon General, since 1980 the number of overweight children has doubled and the number of adolescent has tripled (World Health Organization, 2011).
Community involvement from schools, government, and families is necessary to put an end to the devastating impact obesity has on the health of future Americans. Obesity is characterized by excessive subcutaneous and visceral fat caused by an imbalance between the amount of daily calories consumed and the amount of daily energy expenditure. When highly dense calorie rich foods are consumed in excess of the amount of energy exhausted during physical exercise, the excess energy is stored in adipose tissue as fat. The anthropometrical measurement used to determine an individual’s healthy weight is Body Mass Index.
BMI is calculated using a person’s height and weight, providing a reliable indicator of body fatness and is routinely used to screen for weight categories leading to health problems (CDC, 2011). Diet related chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes mellitus has been associated with obesity, with more children and adolescents being diagnosed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2011), medical problems are common in obese children and adolescents affecting cardiovascular health, the endocrine system, and mental health; increasing the risk of premature death.
The health problems experienced by overweight and obese children directly affects their education, causing missed school days related to doctor appointments and illness. Overweight and obese children become the targets of bullying and lack a sense of social acceptance by their peers. Obese children suffer from social and emotional complications of depression and low self-esteem, which affects academic performance. However, the complications of childhood obesity can be prevented by healthy changes to lifestyle, diet, and physical activity.
Delaware Division of Public Health (2002), has identified an increase in the number of the number of overweight and obese statewide, 36. 2% overweight and 22. 4% obese. Obviously, our community is not immune to the obesity epidemic. Many of the children attending CR schools eat a diet consisting of inexpensive, high energy foods containing large amounts of sugar and fat and engage in little physical activity. Snacks available to students for purchase at school consist of chips, cookies, candy bars, sodas, and ice cream.
Students spend more and more of their free time watching television and movies, playing Internet or video games, instead of participating in sports, walking, or just simply playing outside. Parents use food to comfort their children, consoling them with ice cream, cookies, pizza, or the ever convenient drive-thru window at fast food restaurants, after experiencing a bad day at school or home. With the consumption of fruits and vegetables as an indicator of a healthy diet, only 19. 6% of Delaware residents report eating the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily (DDPH, 2002).
Childhood obesity is the result of multiple factors; therefore, enlisting the assistance and cooperation from families and schools is essential to preventing and reversing the health risks associated with childhood obesity. Schools across the country have risen to the challenge of providing healthy meals and promoting physical fitness programs. The Healthier U. S. School Challenge and Action for Healthier Kids are programs target schools with limited resources and funding to assist them in promoting nutrition and physical exercise.
Meals provided by school should be well-balanced, offering the appropriate servings of fruit and vegetables and limit the number of high sugar content food items available on the lunch menu. School aged children need to learn how to make healthy food choices. Children should not made to feel guilty for eating a cupcake to celebrate a classmates birthday, but to understand the importance of moderation. Funding for schools within the Delmarva area is limited. The additional revenue brought by vending machine companies selling snacks helps provide funding for schools.
However, unlimited access to unhealthy snacks and sodas promote unhealthy food choices. I encourage the school district to collaborate with local and state government department to create policy and programs to encourage healthy food choices and physical activity with our schools. Healthy children are more likely to participate and attend school regularly, reducing the amount of time teachers spend dealing with disciplinary issues or catching a sick child up with the rest of the class. To address the issue of childhood obesity within the Caesar Rodney School District I would
like to recommendation the following prevention strategies •Increase public awareness of the health risks associated with obesity and the prevalence of overweight and obese children in Delaware. •Provide health promotion and nutrition information to families through the school nurse office and high school wellness centers. •A BMI measurement programs should be developed and implemented to screen students at risk for being overweight or obese and parents should be provided information on nutritional and physical activity recommendations for children and adolescents.
•Health classes for students should include nutritional information such as the importance of eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, limiting high concentrated sweets, and eating a whole grain, high fiber diet. •Unhealthy snacks available at school should be limited and replaced with healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and nuts. •Increase the opportunity for physical activity during the school day and offer a variety of after-school sports programs •Partner with the local YMCA to develop an indoor kid friendly physical fitness program available the during the hot summer months
As a leader in the Caesar Rodney School District I am confident you will be willing to offer your support in the prevention of childhood obesity. Promotion of healthy eating habits and physical activity are key to ending the global epidemic of obesity. Schools can have a major impact on prevention and reduction in prevalence of childhood obesity; however they cannot do it alone. Incorporating parents in the plan of action to improve the health of students attending CR school district is important to the success of the prevention strategies I outlined in this letter.
As a parent, I will continue to practice healthy eating, engage in physical activity regular and encourage my children to do the same. You have my continued support in this effort. Sincerely, Sarah Kinnard ? References Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. (2011). Healthly weight-it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Retrieved from http://www. cdc. gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index. html Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. (2011). Nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. Retrieved from http://www. cdc.
gov/Features/ObesityAndKids/ Delaware Division of Public Health. (2002). Obesity among Delaware adults continues to increase. Retreived from http://dhss. delaware. gov/dhss/dph/dpc/obesity02. html Hill, J. , Peters, J. , & Wyatt, H. (2007). The role of public policy in treating the epidemic of global obesity. Clinical Pharmacology And Therapeutics, 81(5), 772-775. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. World Health Organization. (2011). Global strategy on diet, Physical activity and health. Retrieved from http://www. who. int/dietphysicalactivity/en/