Thursday, May 13, 2010

Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation

The large and sometimes difficult to dissect action plan from the Childhood Obesity Task Force, Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, is out. I was happy to see it, as I recently signed Ty up for preschool. Within all the paperwork from that day was a really sad example of a menu. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, corn, fries.. just general starches and processed food with nothing fresh. The hot dogs really shocked me, as I thought everyone regarded those as "sometime foods" and not as a staple in a three year old's diet. Who knew? I didn't know.

I also didn't realize the statistics, either. According to the task force: 

One in every three children (31.7%) ages 2-19 is overweight or obese.

One third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime.

Overall, medical spending on adults that was attributed to obesity topped approximately $40 billion in 1998, and by 2008, increased to an estimated $147 billion. Excess weight is also costly during childhood, estimated at $3 billion per year in direct medical costs.

Yikes. Those are scary, but the task force thinks that they know what to do, and this is the list:

1. create a healthy start on life for our children, from pregnancy through early childhood;
2. empower parents and caregivers to make healthy choices for their families;
3. serve healthier food in schools;
4. ensure access to healthy, affordable food; and
5. increase opportunities for physical activity.

I feel like I have seen obesity in America change from childhood to adulthood. We all have feelings associated with the problem. Active and healthy children lead to smarter students and happier and productive citizens, and a better world. (I know, I know. I'm a bit corny, but I am a teacher. I believe in all of this!)

I am worried about #3--serve healthier food in schools, especially since Ty is heading to preschool with such a menu. I am going to delve into this a bit more. Anyone want to give me ideas of where to start? Should I contact the preschool? Send lunch to school everyday? Any advice, at all?