“So what if my kid likes to eat a lot? He’s not fat, just chubby. He will grow into his body eventually.” We’ve all either heard another parent say this, or thought this ourselves. This is the thinking of many parents who don’t realize that in reality, their kids are on their way to joining the many other kids struggling with weight issues. Shockingly, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years and in 2008, more than one-third of children were considered overweight or obese. As such, schools are stepping in to try and help children by implementing initiatives targeting weight loss. In a recent study, school administrators screened for BMI and sent the results home to parents, but found no difference in the prevalence of obesity of those students compared to those who were not notified.
The hope was that if parents were notified of their kids’ BMI, they might take the necessary steps to help their kids lose weight. It was found, however, that regardless of race or ethnic group, two to four years later there was no effect on the BMI of those kids. As a result, policies should be more focused on changing the environment that our kids spend a lot of time in, and school policies can play a large role in that.
Some things that schools around the country are doing now:
* Making changes to the school menu (decrease in starchy vegetables (fries), adding whole grain foods, reducing sodium, serving unflavored milk, no trans fat, calorie maximums, making sure schools meet dietary guidelines for America)
* Strategic placement of salad bars and fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria
* Promote the purchase of healthy food at school through pricing strategies
* Healthier vending machine options at school (reduced sugary snack and drink options)
* Implement programs like “Just for Kids” that targets obesity, cardiovascular fitness, physical fitness and nutritional knowledge of fat content in food through weekly class instruction and role-playing, workbooks and physical activity
* Increase the time and duration of physical activity offered during school and in after-school programs
* Educate parents and teach them about nutrition and resources that are available to them and help them better understand pediatric obesity
The simple truth is that no one wants to be fat…especially a child. Not only does it affect kids emotionally when they get teased or become self-conscious of their appearance, but also physically as it leads to a host of diseases and problems as they get older. As parents, we need to take charge and set healthy examples for our kids to follow at home and let them enjoy a worry-free, and healthy, childhood.