Childhood Obesity Crisis

Today, America is in a serious situation. The economic crisis occurs everywhere and it affects people in every corner of the world. However, there is no crisis in the past that we didn’t confront and survived, either the Black Death pandemic in the 12th century or the Great Depression in the 20s. We always find methods or cures to heal ourselves. We always have hope for the future, because we trust in ourselves and especially in our children who are our future. They’re young, fresh and healthy, so that they can lead us and the country to a secure future. Unfortunately, reality looks different. The children of America are getting bigger and bigger (Lyons, 1A, 16). Obesity is a serious problem which the numbers show: Already 15.5% of America’s children are overweight, which is three times as much as twenty years ago (Lyons, 1A, 17). Getting teased in school can have negative effects on their psyche. Furthermore, obesity follows the children in their adulthood where plenty of health risks will occur. They’ll suffer from health disorders, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer (Dibez). In 2002 a health survey showed that 64% of the American adults are overweight or obese (Lyons, 1A, 17). The reason why obesity is so dangerous is because it affects our health, which causes more people to depend on health care. This leads us to the question: How are our children able to lead our country’s future if they’re obese and depend on health care? America needs to wake up and fight against it. If America’s children continue to be obese, it will have tremendous effects for the future of our country. In the end, we need to know how and why it became such a harmful problem in our society, so that we can find solutions and fight against our closest enemy – obesity.

One major reason why children are obese is the unhealthy food they eat at home and in school. In today’s society both mother and father work. There is less time to cook and prepare healthy food for the whole family. An easy way to have dinner after work is to buy fast food. Parents and their children get cheap, tasty and convenient food within minutes. Unfortunately, fast food is high in calories and fat which causes obesity. Norcen Held, a mother, says, “You drive down the street and it’s so much easier in this hectic world we live in to grab a taco or burger and bag of fries, milkshakes.” (Lyons, 1A, 17). Children are always surrounded by fast food, even in schools. Now a days schools resemble food courts, like in shopping malls. For the children, it is a normal thing to have fast food for lunch. For example, a school in California offers pizza, nachos, a cookie and a soda for a lunch meal. All in all, the meal consists of 1116 calories and 51 grams of fat which is more than half of a 2000 calorie diet (Severson, A14). In addition to what children eat is what children drink. Most children drink at least one soft drink a day which contains 150 calories each and one out of five children drink more than four 12 oz cans a day (Simon, 9A). In fact, children are eating fast food and drinking soda almost every day, at any time. In addition, the fast food serving sizes have increased in the past 50 years. In the 1950s a single hamburger was 3.9 oz, a soft drink 7 oz and a portion fries were 2.4 oz. Now a days, a hamburger is 8.2 oz, a soft drink 42 oz and a portion fries is 7.1 oz (Lyons, 16 A). The growing portions are the dot on the “i”.
Another reason our children are getting fatter is the lack of exercises they get. One reason is the huge influence of today’s media. In today’s society almost every family owns a TV and a computer, whether rich or poor. After school, children spend most of their time watching TV, sitting in front of the computer or playing video games. That is why it is quite normal today for a child to eat in front of the TV (Lyons, 1 A, 17). America’s children between 8 and 18 years watch more than three hours TV a day (Severson, A14). In addition, a survey, asking parents from the Bay Area, found out that 50% of the children sit in front of the computer at least an hour and that 25% play video games an hour or more (Lyons, 1A, 17). Mike Burita, a health expert says, “When kids were once shooting baskets after school, they’re shooting bad guys in video games” (Lyons 1A, 17). The time in front of the media has become so normal that children, especially of low-income families, don’t play a lot outside anymore, or participate in a sports team (May). The reasons are that the parents do not trust their dangerous neighborhoods and that they can’t pay the required sport equipment or fees (May). The last hope where children can get a certain amount of exercises is school. However, the truth looks different. Schools have cut back Physical Education (P.E) classes, because of a lack of money (Lyons, 1A, 17). A big percentage of elementary school children are getting only 15 minutes of coordinated activity during one week (May). Once a year fifth, seventh and ninth graders take a physical fitness test where their strength, aerobics and body fat are measured. In 2003 77% of the children did not pass the test (May). These results are so tremendous that we have to wake up and do something to prevent and fight childhood obesity.
Parents play an important role fighting childhood obesity, because they are responsible for their children. However, obesity can’t be healed in a couple weeks or months. It is a process which takes time, effort and a great determination. Rome wasn’t built in one day. Parents have to be role models for their children. A few things that parents can do in a daily routine can help children prevent gaining weight and feeling better. The first thing parents can do is offering their children a variety of healthy nutritious food. This includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains (Knowles). At the same time parents should reduce the consuming of processed food, fast food, candies and soft drinks (Eisenberg and Williams). Furthermore, parents should make up regular family dinners with the whole family eating at the same time and they should encourage their children to eat slowly. This prevents eating too fast which gives a certain time to digest their food and to feel full (Eisenberg and Williams). Another thing parents can do is to get their children out of the house and to be active. Parents should reduce the time in front of the TV and computer and let their children play outside (Knowles). Easy activities can be bicycling and walking (Eisenberg and Williams). Also they can sign up their children for a sports team like soccer and basketball and motivate them to take P.E classes in school (Lyons, 17A). Parents should be role models for their children and teach them to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
On the other hand, schools have the duty to fight against obesity. School is a place where children learn how to write, read and calculate. Unfortunately, children aren’t given the opportunity to learn about the importance in life, which is to be healthy and stay healthy in the future. This is why schools should teach children the importance of health. Children shouldn’t only learn about math and physics, but also about how to live and eat healthy. Therefore, schools should introduce so called “lunch classes”, where children learn to cook together and enjoy their meal afterwards (Severson, arc2). This is a good way to teach them the value of a self-cooked meal which they won’t forget when they grow up. Also schools can offer gardening classes where children learn how to grow organic and healthy food, such as vegetables and fruits (Severson, arc2). This also includes what schools offer their children to eat. They should change their unhealthy menu into a healthy menu. In particular, it means to ban fast food, sweets, snacks and soft drinks from the vending machines in school (Watson). Instead they should offer them apples as snacks and juice to drink or beef jerky instead of chips (Watson). My personal opinion is that schools should offer more sport activities. That means to offer a variety of after school activities and upgrade the importance of P.E classes which aren’t really challenging at the moment. An former High school student, Rachel Willis said, “I did P.E when I was a freshman, and the only thing they made us do was run a mile. Other than that, it was like free time” (May). If schools would do these changes it will help the children losing weight and it will give them good opportunities for a healthy future.
Another important role plays the government. With the supreme power of the government obesity can be fight and reduced in the long term. With various laws the government can help to prevent children from getting fatter and fatter. The government should put pressure on the fast food industry by opening people’s eyes that they eat unhealthy food. A law which makes fast food restaurants show the nutrition facts of their food would be one solution (Lyons, 17A). Furthermore, the government should put labels on fast food which will warn the consumer about an unhealthy product (Lyons, 17A). Moreover, the government should reduce fast food advertising on TV which attracts children. Instead, it could advertise healthy eating and encourage people to do exercises (Lyons, 17A). In addition, the government should demand extra taxes on fast food and use the money for physical activity programs that fight against obesity (Lyons, 17A). Those programs and organizations that fight against obesity are important. The government should award these programs with financial grants (Choice). In schools the government should make a law that forbids selling soft drinks to children (Severson, A14). With more encouragement of the government, America’s children could have a better life now and in the future.
It seems that our future is in danger, because a majority of America’s residents, either young or old, are overweight or obese. This is why we have to wake up and take action. Some people might think that obesity is an individual problem. Why should they do something against it, even if they aren’t overweight. However, this is the wrong attitude, because even if it doesn’t seem like, obesity affects everybody in America, especially our country’s future. If more people are getting obese, more people will depend on health care. As a result, more money is needed to finance people’s health care which is nearly impossible if the majority of America’s adults are obese. When you are obese it is more difficult to make money and earn a living. The worst case scenario is that we will fall in an economic crisis with millions of sick people. Yet, it is not to late to do something. If we all pull together on one string, we can fight and beat the obesity crisis. Therefore, we all must take action, because only if we are a unit force we can succeed. Parents, schools and the government are in the duty to do something against our enemy – obesity. Like the three musketeers used to say, “One for all, all for one.”

Work Cited – MLA

“How can governments fight childhood obesity?” choicefoodforkids. 9 May. 2007. Choice. .

Dibez, Soline “Cause and Solution to Obesity.” Cause and Solution to Obesity. 11 Aug. 2005. 15 May 2009 .

Knowles, Steve “As a Parent – What Can You Do?” Theyesword.

Clark, Amy “One School’s Fight Against Obesity.” Cbsnews. 27 Jan. 2007. CBS News.

Watson, Aleta “School Food Under Attack.” San Jose Mercury News. XX XXX. 2004

Watson, Aleta “Mom’s Mission On School Food.” San Jose Mercury News. XX XXX. 200X

Lyons, Julie “An Alarm Over Kids Weight.” San Jose Mercury News. 7 Mar. 2004

Eisenberg, Ron and Williams, Virgil “Preventing Childhood Obesity Should Be A Family Project.” San Mateo County Times. 14 Nov. 2005

Severson, Kim and May, Meridith “Growing Up to Fat.” The Chronicle. 12 May. 2002

Severson, Kim “Food joins academic menu in Berkeley school district.” SF Chronicle. 29 Aug. 2004. (article 2 = arc2)