Childhood Obesity In Schools

School environment and child obesity relation

The majority of young people aged 5–17 years are enrolled in schools and spend most of their time in school. So, it makes sense those schools with environment that doesn’t promote healthy nutrition, physical activity habits, and health education influences childhood obesity. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), schools and school districts are, increasingly, implementing innovative programs that focus on improving the nutrition and increasing physical activity of students.

child obesityIn public schools, free or discounted meals programs may influence high food (see childhood obesity & food) intake among children. These programs may compose more than half the daily calorie intake for children who participate in those programs, particularly for those from low-income families. However, total and saturated fat contents of meals provided by most schools exceed the limits required by the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and National School Breakfast Program (NSBP) programs. Without lessening student participation rates, training of food preparation staff may efficiently address this problem. Many schools also have snack bars, student stores, and vending machines that offer foods high in fat and sugar content (see childhood obesity fast food). Students at schools that offer such food sources in addition to the NSLP are less likely to consume fruits, juice, and vegetables than students who are only offered the NSLP.

Schools that do not encourage physical activity are also liable for increasing child obesity because children are less likely to involve in physical activity (see childhood obesity & physical activity) in the absence of adult supervision.

In order to increase physical activity among children regardless of their athletic abilities, the CDC recommends daily physical education classes that emphasize health-related fitness activities over activities requiring specific athletic abilities (see childhood obesity & exercise).

In addition to requiring physical education, other opportunities for schools to increase energy expenditure include encouraging physical activity, nutrition (see childhood obesity & nutrition) during recess and providing after-school sports and health-related fitness programs.

childhood obesity in schools

A 2001 national survey documented poor eating behaviors among American youth. Only 21.4% of high school students had eaten more than five servings per day of fruits and vegetables; 13.5 % reported fasting for more than 24 hours to lose weight; 9.2% reported using diet pills that were not prescribed by a physician; and 5.4% reported using vomiting or laxatives as a weight control measure.

In another national survey, fat comprised an average of 35% of total caloric intake in youth aged 2 to 19 years, and almost two-thirds of these youth did not eat recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Nutrition education could give students the tools they need to make healthy choices regarding eating and physical activity which even helps obese children in decreasing the effects of child obesity (see effects of childhood obesity).

childhood obesity in schoolsEven though schools could potentially have a large effect on determinants of obesity in children, results of studies examining school-based obesity interventions have been variable. A analysis of these studies found that approach designed at younger children had better long-term results than those focused on adolescents, which may suggest that eating and physical activity behaviors are more difficult to change as children get older. The inconsistency of results in studies examining school-based interventions underscores the fact that many influences outside schools are important determinants of children's body weight. While child obesity may not be overcome by the efforts of the education system alone, schools having unhealthy environment certainly causes obesity in children (see childhood obesity causes).

childhood obesity preventionTips for parents

How can schools help in childhood obesity prevention? We have some ideas in our Childhood Obesity School section.

Child Obesity and Community |                        | More Causes Of Childhood Obesity

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