Preventing Childhood Obesity Begins in Physical Education Class

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic that can threaten the health and life span of the world. Obesity is on the rise due to the lack of activity children have since schools are decreasing physical education classes.

Diagnosing obesity in children is different than in adults they use your body mass index (BMI). In children there are several factors in determining obesity. In children they measure your skin fold thickness, height and weight and their BMI. In children if there BMI is above the 95th percentile they are considered obese. Type 2 diabetes is this a major public health crisis. Newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes in children has increased from less than 5% before 1994 to 30% and 50% in more recent years.

Childhood obesity is not only predisposing kids for health risks but mental and social complications as well. Obese children are at risk for diseases such as hypertension, type II diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Once considered rare conditions in children, these diseases are seen with increasing frequency by pediatricians. With this rise of adult diseases in children it is decreasing the life expectancy of the next generation. With the rise of these diseases heath care costs will increase as well. This is an alarming rate because it can cause financial restraints on families who do not have access to health care. Families with limited access to health care will delay seeking treatment and will in turn have greater complications.

Children and adolescents aged 10-17 from families with an income below the poverty line were 74% more likely to be overweight or obese than those from families with a household income at 400% above the poverty line. Simply put, teachers need to address these issues within health education lessons []. Other concerns with the rise in child hood obesity are children from families where the parents are always working and they are left home alone and depending on the neighborhood they live in it is not safe for them to play outside.

Another contributor to the rise in obesity is the food choices offered to school aged children. School lunches today are not filled with the essential vitamins and minerals children need to consume everyday and lunches contain almost two thousand calories in one serving. Vending machines are all around school buildings and they are filled with soft drinks other unhealthy foods. In our society children are consuming fewer amounts of fruits and vegetables and reaching for chips and soda. Vending machines are mainly filled with unhealthy foods so it makes it easier for kids to keep on getting bigger in size.

School lunch periods are decreasing in time due to academic requirements which makes it convenient for the child to consume food from the vending machine then eating a real lunch meal. Some schools have banned vending machines from schools or have set certain times for when students can use the vending machine. Preventive measures put in place by physical education teachers and health education teachers are helping students and parents fight the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Nicholas Cuttonaro is a Physical Education and Health Teacher from New York. He operates which offers free tips and guides for teachers. Check out his other health education lessons [] to educate teachers and parents on his website.


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