Childhood obesity is an ever increasing problem all over our country, however in the southern states the problem is growing at an alarming rate. The culture down here is to eat and to eat often, and weight is attractive. Every event is greeted with a large platter of something fried or confectious, or both! Even in these modern times, things are still pretty low down here, if anything modern amenities have made it worse. This culture is being taught to our children at an early age, and not much seems to be in the works to correct the problem.
The childhood obesity issue appear to begin in school as that is where children spend most of their waking hours. Schools are underfunded to begin with, and left to provide food to our children on a single mother’s kind of budget. The foods are mass produced and highly processed, meaning mostly corn. The same goes for daycares a they tend to provide high sugar snacks and drinks that are low cost. Most schools have a physical education program until early high school, and offer optional sports programs. The short PE class during the school day is usually all the physical activity a child gets, if they do not find some way out, as most children are lazy because of their inactivity; and the cycle continues.
Gone are the days of children rushing back out of the house after school to go play. Because of questionable safety in some areas, parents are not inclined to allow their children to play outside unsupervised. However, given the choice most children would rather stay inside where it is climate controlled, and play on sort of media device. These media devices are riddled with advertisements for sugary and fatty foods, as well as for more thing to add and play on this same device and others. Then off to Mommy and Daddy they run to demand these goodies, to which the parents acquiesce.
Unfortunately parents have come up in the same system in which their children are and the same bad habits have been ingrained. For this reason as well as financial ones, parents do not think twice about the foods they provide their children, and if they do the choice is typically based off of erroneous public education and media. Coupons dictate grocery lists and its almost never the healthy stuff on sale. Nutrition labels are just overlooked text on a package, and rarely properly understood when read out of boredom over a midnight bowl of cereal. Portion recommendations are ignored completely, a parents jut eyeball portions or allow children to free feed from the package. In the beginning of life, breastfeeding is a choice, but often poorly researched. Some mothers choose to do what their mother did, some go off the biggest words on a formula label, and somewhere in there some half heard doctor recommendation is taken.
But what can be done to combat all of this? Simply put, fix the aforementioned problems! Start in the schools; better class room education on nutrition so they can make better choices for themselves, give them better options at lunchtime and in the vending machines, and encourage movement. The Center for Disease Control has proposed strategies and put up funding to do just this. Some programs involve tore incentives to buy healthier foods, programs to get more fruits and vegetables into schools, and enrollment of schools into the USDAs Team Nutrition Program. Other strategies include more support for breastfeeding, better physical education in schools and access to drinking water, and providing safe places for children to play. These are all good ideas for helping prevent children from becoming obese. But, is it okay to limit a child access to certain foods? Absolutely!
People tend to get hung up on the word “diet” when talking about nutrition. To most a diet implies a temporary duration of uncomfortable limitations on calories and foods. And who would want to put a kid through that? No one. However, that is not a true diet. A diet is simply what a person eats regularly. It can be good or bad depending on the person’s choices. Putting a child that is used to high sugar and fatty foods, on an organic high whole grain, fruit, and vegetable “diet” may sound torturous to the child, however it will do the exact opposite of harm the child. Too many children are on medications for complications of a poor “DIET”, therefore placing them on a better one I not the worst thing someone could do to a child. Thankfully states are getting the clue and jumping on board the healthy nutrition train and leaving the station towards Healthyton.
The CDC has a few programs listed for South Carolina, though the links do not work and it is difficult to find more information on them. The programs listed are a follows; South Carolina’s action plan to “Move South Carolina to a Healthy Weight” strategy is geared toward weight reduction, the “Eat smart, Move More South Carolina” I geared toward helping the public make better nutrition choices, and the “Farm to School”, and “School Gardens” program are geared toward teaching children to make healthier choices and making those choices available. These program are good starts though not widely practiced yet, but there is hope for the future. The Farm to school and school Gardens programs are really good ideas and can help the next generation grow up with better habits and understandings of food. Some recommendations for the state would be to put more funding into to school food programs, as well as make more government funded advertising about healthy foods to reeducate the public and bring about awareness, also revamping school health classes to teach proper nutrition based on a whole food diet would be a step in the right direction.
South Carolina’s Response to Obesity. (2014, January 1). Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/south_carolina.html
Strategies and Solutions. (2014, October 9). Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/solutions.html
A Growing Problem. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/problem.html