One of the many programs that is available for the population are the several programs outfitted to help curve and lower the number of obese people in the United States. With the way that society is going, there is a huge problem with society and obesity. Obesity is defined as, “Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn't just a cosmetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.” (Mayo Clinic, 2019) Understanding this helps us determine what programs are available to the population and how-to better market them for availability and use. One of the major reasons that we need to focus on programs that are able to help curve obesity is focusing on Early Care and Education and Weight-loss.
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There are several reasons that Early Care and Education is important in helping prevent obesity is because if we create habits at a early age, we have a lower risk of adult obesity. “A comprehensive approach that improves the food and physical activity policies, practices and environments in ECE programs has potential to impact childhood obesity in the United States.” (Center for Disease Control, 2019) There are several programs that are available to children but that also leaves a opening for us to improve. When looking into childhood obesity there are several programs that cater to making sure that children are given proper meals while they are at school, promote exercise, and build good habits to make sure that children are spending less time on screen time. Some of the major programs offered to children are the Early Childcare and Educational (ECE) Obesity Prevention program, The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health ( REACH) Program, and the Action for Healthy Kids. Each of these programs offers a benefit that the other might not.
- Early Childcare and Educational (ECE) Obesity Prevention Program – This is a program that works closely with the state and federal government to be able to put into effect some of the prevention plans that have been proven. This program also provides training and technical assistance for supporting obesity prevention efforts. (https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/downloads/acting-early-to-prevent-obesity.pdf)
- The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) – This program works to better assist in bridging the gaps that there are in multi-cultural areas. For example, there has been a higher rate of Hispanic to non-hispanic individuals who are obese. REACH provides funds to states and local health through the CDC to help implement and create programs that are both cultural appropriate but also help curve obesity within the community.
- Action for Healthy Kids – This program is not federally funded but offers a alternative to some of the programs available through the CDC and other organizations. They implement strategies that get kids the hands-on experience of what it means to eat healthy but also allows them the ability to be able to get kids working outside. These programs are available to schools and parents through grants that just need to be applied for on their website.
Obesity has played a major role in society today. Understanding the role that obesity plays in children means that we should be looking at how to educate parents on how to make better food. According to the CDC, the number of children that were considered obese was lower when the child had more education. “Approximately 17 percent of U.S. youth have obesity, and nearly one in three children and adolescents are either overweight or have obesity.” (Partnership for a healthier America, 2019) Not only is lowering adolescent obesity a major priority but we also need to make sure that we are looking at the fact that unfortunately there are so many options available that do not have healthy alternatives. So much of our food in local grocery stores are processed and therefore don’t have the nutrients that are required for a healthy meal. Not only are the foods generally processed but usually the ones that are at a more affordable cost are also the ones that are processed the most. Understanding this also helps us see that obesity can be directly linked to economic standings in community. The children that grow up in a under privileged area often are the ones that come from families who cannot afford to pay for healthier alternatives.
As previously stated, there are several strategies in place to help combat childhood obesity. The ones that will be the most effective are the ones that not only educate children but also give them the options that they need to continue to learn and make better choices as they get older. With obesity comes other health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Understanding childhood obesity will help us prevent and lower the costs of healthcare all around because people will be seeing providers for day to day reasons rather than chronic health conditions.
One of the major reasons that I believe in A Healthier America is because their goal is to transform the way that the marketplace works, cultivate and create healthier environments for children and young adults, as well as showcase ways to improve food within households and increase the physical activities that children do. Each point in their mission statement is a valid reason for why children are the future of our country and without changing healthy lifestyles now there is no way to guarantee that they are given the ability to live long healthy lives.
Some of the strategies that are in place to help incorporate and make sure that families are given the opportunity to continue to eat healthier foods and increase activity are programs like the Woman, Infant and Children (WIC) program where food packages are provided to children to help curb unhealthy eating and lower the financial burden that parents face when trying to be able to afford healthier alternatives to over processed foods. Other major programs that are available are the opportunity to give children healthier lunch meals at their schools while also increasing the number of outdoor programs that are available to children through after school programs.
As with any major epidemic there are challenges that have to be overcome in order for society to take on the full benefit of the programs available to them. Some of the major challenges that are faced are the high cost of organic or healthier foods, matched with the failing economy deny majority of the population the right to cleaner foods. Of course, there are health complications that children face when dealing with obesity, some of those complications are: sleep disorders, eating disorders, as well as psychological difficulties. Not only do these factors play a role in the overall health of the child at a young age but they are cause habits to form that will carry into adulthood.
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Personally, some of the strategies that I believe would allow us the best opportunity to curb the problems that we face with childhood obesity are going to be finding way to educate families that might not be able to get the education that they need. Not only do I believe that education is a huge part of making sure that children are not facing obesity but at the same time we have to make sure that we are giving children the opportunities without strings attached. For example, we should be making sure that we are giving children the opportunity to get healthy alternatives to food.
- Education – Incorporating local health classes as well as the making sure there are opportunities for fun when it comes to education will make a huge impact on the way that children learn. Some of the programs that I would implement would be monthly cooking classes and programs that allow for better alternatives to foods that are allowed on EBT. Unfortunately because there is a huge correlation between poverty and obesity, we should make sure that we are lobbying for federal programs that put stricter regulations on what can and cannot be purchased with food stamps. I believe that this would give families that guidance that they need to make healthier choices when choosing foods.
- Education is extremely important when looking at families. Understanding that gives us the freedom to incorporate realistic education into the public education system. We should give children the ability to feel like it’s something fun rather than a chore. Children should be given cooking classes that count for electives that utilize healthy cooking to make sure that children are equipped with the tools to make healthy choices before they even leave the education system.
Ultimately there are always going to be ways to prevent chronic diseases, but it will it will fall on the parents to help instill and educate their children so that they are making healthy choices from a young age. Children follow by example and therefore when parents are making choices for their own food habits children are going to be choosing those same foods. As a parent myself, understanding these choices helps to put a ease in my mind on why I make the choices I do.
- Childhood Obesity Causes & Consequences. (2016, December 15). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html.
- What Are The Complications of Childhood Obesity? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://childhoodobesityfoundation.ca/what-is-childhood-obesity/complications-childhood-obesity/.
- Obesity. (2019, August 22). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/symptoms-causes/syc-20375742.
- Early Care and Education (ECE). (2019, October 2). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/childcareece.html.
- What We Do. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/what-we-do.
- Early Childcare and Education Obesity Prevention Program. (2018, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/ece-obesity-prevention-program.html.
- Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. (2019, September 17). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/state-local-programs/reach/index.htm.
- About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ahealthieramerica.org/articles/about-us-5.
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