Childhood obesity is a problem that has faced the United States for over two decades. With so many health issues associated with obesity and so many children becoming obese the problem is in need of a solution. It has been found that children from low socioeconomic status areas are more likely to become obese. Between their families and schools lack of ability to provide healthy meals and not enough resources to fix the issue many children are not learning ways to beat obesity for their future. This study aims to find out if there is a strong correlation between low socioeconomic status in homes and schools and childhood obesity, as past research has believed to be true. Through surveys completed by parents at two different schools, it is the hope that the information will provide new insight into this increasing problem that is affecting our children not only today but in their future, too.
Impact of Socioeconomic Status and School Meal Programs on Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity has been a huge problem over the last few decades. Over this time, children have turned from outside play and activities to television, video games, and computers to keep themselves entertained. With such a lack of physical activity compared to past generations the rate of childhood obesity increased greatly and rapidly. The foods being served to children, both at home and at school have also changed in the recent past. More schools are moving away from meals cooked on campus and are turning to processed foods that come delivered already packaged and ready to serve. At home, children are eating more processed foods as well. With more children coming from homes with two working parent or single parent homes, the food industry has caught on and capitalized on the lack of time families feel they have. Fast food restaurants and processed meals you can make at home in just minutes have become a norm in our society. These are the two leading contributors to childhood obesity, as we know it (Cluss et al., 2013). Lack of a well-balanced, healthy diet and lack of physical activity have made for this terrifying rise in weight issues and health problems of our future generations. To help ensure the best future for our future generations it is important to continue studying the causes of childhood obesity and look for more preventative measures.
In the Bay Area, and the United States as a whole, many children come from a family with low socioeconomic status. This is been studied and is believed to be a contribution to childhood overweight/ obesity rates. Coming from a family that has a limited amount of resources and/ or government assistance can be a determining factor in what foods you eat. Many people feel that to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet you need to spend a lot of money. Lower socioeconomic neighborhoods also tend to have fewer markets and stores that offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (DeMattia, 2008). Just because a family has, a low-socioeconomic status should not be a determining factor in the foods they are able to purchase. In order for children to have good health, one major contributor is the food they eat. All children, whether from a high, middle, or low socioeconomic family and neighborhood, should be fed nutritious meals. By studying obesity in these neighborhoods, I hope to find possible solutions in order to help parents provide children with the kinds of foods they need to thrive.
(One Page Introduction is more than enough, rest should continue in discussion)
Children spend a majority of their day at school. While at school, they eat either one or two meals or a snack. This equates to a large portion of their overall food and caloric intake. With this in mind, it is hard to imagine why these children are being fed foods that are not helping with the obesity health epidemic. In recent years, some changes have been made, such as replacing while milk with one percent or fat free milk. However, still many other menu issues need to be studied and addressed. Many schools still offer processed food as opposed to meals made with fresh ingredients on site. There is a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables offered to the students. Besides the issues, surrounding meal programs there is also the lack of physical education. Many schools only offer physical education class one or two days a week to student. Recess and outside time is limited because the focus remains on academics. Since a well balanced diet and physical activity are key elements in maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index, it is vital that schools receive proper funding to provide all students with these necessities.
Through reviewing studies that have already been conducted on childhood obesity and socioeconomic status within the family and school, the objective of this research will be studied through a survey. This study will focus on what has already been researched and the data collected from the survey, in the form of a questionnaire, to come up with more information on how socioeconomic status plays or does not play a part in childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity and being overweight has been a problem in our country and around the world for many years. Sadly, this health issue grew in numbers rapidly and is now at epidemic levels. Between 1985 and 1997, obesity rates in children more than doubled in Western countries (Sutherland et al., 2008). In the United States in 1980, 6.5% of 6 to 11 year old children were obese; in 2006, it had increased to 17% (Li, Hooker, 2010). These numbers are frightening but real, nonetheless. Some countries appear to be at a higher risk than others are. The Americas and the regions of the eastern Mediterranean had higher prevalence of overweight and obese children (30 – 40%) than in Europe (20 – 30%), Southeast Asia, western Pacific, and African regions (10 – 20% in the latter three) (Wang, Lim, 2012). Here in North America 30% of our school aged children are considered overweight and 15% are obese, that equals out to one in ten children (Wang, Lim, 2012). These numbers have become out of control and the most devastating part is the affect this illness has on the children’s lives.
Childhood obesity has many terrible side effects. While some side effects are more prevalent or more severe than others are, they all hold a possible impact on the life of a child. The most common side effect is health issues. Children who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of having many immediate and long-term health issues as well as a higher chance of comorbidity (Reilly, 2006). For 25 to 50% of cases of childhood obesity, children will remain obese into adulthood (Sutherland, et al., 2008). Children who are overweight and obese are diagnosed regularly with Type II diabetes and heart disease (Li, Hooker, 2010). Other common health issues are hypertension; hyperinsulinemia; dyslipidemia; joint abnormalities; polycystic ovarian syndrome; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; sleep disturbances; hardening of the arteries; and high blood pressure (Daniels, 2006). Other very worrisome issues include some pulmonary and musculoskeletal complications and a potentially increased middle-aged morbidity and mortality (O’Dea et al., 2014). It is essential that U.S. children get their weight in check, all of the health problems they are facing can significantly shorten their lives, leading them the become the first generation in U.S. history to die at a younger age than their parents (Cooper, 2011).
One of the best solutions to this epidemic is prevention. Most problems associated with childhood obesity are easily preventable by simply improving a child’s nutrition (Cooper, 2011). Prevention is the optimal strategy because once a child becomes overweight it is much harder to handle the issue (Galvin et al., 2014). By taking steps to prevent childhood, obesity during the years children are in school it is believed that obesity in adulthood will be reduced (Bach et al., 2014). Some ways in which parents can prevent childhood obesity is to maintain a healthy weight while carrying the child because “a higher maternal BMI during pregnancy was associated with more rapid growth in the offspring and an increased risk of becoming obese in adulthood” (Glavin et al., 2014). Teaching children healthy eating and physical activity habits from a young age can help set the path to a healthy future (Bach et al., 2012). Schools can provide well-balanced meals and snacks to students, offer plenty of time for physical activity and teach children and parents the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. With a total of 43 million children estimated to be overweight and another 92 million at risk of becoming overweight, this is an issue that needs to be further addressed (Wang, Lim, 2012).
The food that children eat plays a huge role in their health. If a child is eating well balanced, nutritious meals it will provide them with the energy they need to grow, learn, and thrive. The current state of our nation’s food supply is unacceptable; Agribusinesses control 90 percent of the supple and much of that supple is unhealthy and processed foods (Cooper, 2011). Teaching children about healthy food choices while in elementary school will guide them to better choices throughout their lives. With strong school, meal programs that put an emphasis on whole foods made from real and natural ingredients children will know what a healthy meal looks and tastes like. By offering children fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins it can help improve their diet while allowing them to try to become familiar with new foods. Unfortunately, “inadequate and sometimes restrictive funding makes it extremely difficult to shift from processed to locally grown food” (Cooper, 2011).
Many lunchroom staff members are not trained and do not have the necessary tools to provide the meals children need. Since “schools function as complex bureaucracies and often face significant fiscal and resource constraints”, it is hard to overcome these difficulties (Jain, Langwith, 2013). However, if schools were to shift around the amount of money they get paid to provide schools lunches by adding just 50 cents per student to the actual food, as opposed to new supplies or packaging, children could be served fresh, healthy meals (Cooper, 2011).
Socioeconomic status has been found to play an increasing role in childhood obesity. Boys and girls who come from lower socioeconomic status were found to have a higher prevalence of childhood obesity, they are 1.5 times more likely to be obese or overweight those children from higher socioeconomic areas (Sutherland et al., 2008). People who have access to more energy dense foods, low socioeconomic status in the United States, have a higher risk of becoming obese (Wang, Lim, 2012). This could be because they are exposed to fast food 2.5 times as often as people in higher socioeconomic status areas (Sutherland et al, 2008). It was found that “low-SES groups in industrialized countries and high-SES groups in developing countries are at higher risk than their counterparts” (Wang, Lim, 2012). The simple fact that a child comes from a family with less income is preventing them from receiving the kinds of foods that will give them the best opportunity to be healthy. Schools in low socioeconomic status areas are not well funding and have a difficult time meeting the needs of the children while they are at school. This is something that has been ongoing even thought much has been done to prevent it.
One way schools can help these children is to find ways to incorporate physical activity into the lesson plan. In low socioeconomic areas, there tends to be fewer walking paths and parks, or parents do not feel safe bringing their children to the ones available (Sutherland et al., 2008). By offering more recess and physical education time, children will be able to maintain their weight through exercise. Teaching parents and children about healthy living, foods and activities, schools can help bridge the gap that they financial difficulties have created. Healthy habits learned in childhood can lead to lifelong healthy behaviors that can lessen likelihood of weight gain (Bach et al., 2014).
The aim of this research is to discover if there is any correlation between a family and schools socioeconomic status and the children’s likelihood of childhood obesity. The main objectives are to identify if there is any correlation between the two; how this affects the children and families, and what the schools are doing to help turn the issue around and while helping the families.
Data collection from this study will be done through a cross sectional survey given at two different elementary schools, one in Oakland, California and the other Alameda, California to get a small range of geographical locations and socio-demographics. This research as well as base studies will be used to make up the primary data collection survey. The sample group will be parents from different classes at each school. They will be asked if they would be willing to participate in a short questionnaire about their child’s health, physical activity and the meals and/or snacks provided by the school and at home. I will seek approval through both schools by presenting my study and what it is I would like to do at their school.
I would ask to observe lunchtime at each school and in a few classrooms to see what the classroom environment is like. It will be explained that surveys in the form of a questionnaire will be passes out to will parent participants to fill out anonymously. The questions within the questionnaire will be scale-based questions. The questionnaire will be short and should take no longer than ten minutes to complete. The information provided from the questionnaires will provide information to help make conclusions to the research questions asked in this study. Interviews with school principals and lunchroom staff will also be conducted to get a better idea of what the socioeconomic status is of the student population as well as more information about how meals are prepared and served.
Human Subjects Protocol
Participants in this study will be parents of students within the two elementary schools. Permission from each of the schools will be obtained first. Once approval is given and the classes are assigned, the questionnaires will be handed out with information about what the survey is for, letting parents know that it is optional and confidential. If any parent does not wish to participate, they will not have to and if at any point, a parent wishes to end their participation that will be fine. It will be explained that this information will be used only for the purposes of this study for this class and will not be shared further.
It is better to give it in a table format
The paper presents with some great use of knowledge and ideas as well as information from various research to address the issues of obesity. The writer used quality resources and follows appropriate steps of clearly state the problem, the causes of the problem, and the effects of the problem on our generation. The writer created a sense of urgency that is affecting the future generations.
There is depictation of quality information such as the health issues caused by obesity such as reducing the average life span. Moreover, the writer has addressed the key issues caused by obesity that are among the increasing concerns these days. Hypertension and increased cholesterol are among the key reasons in today’s society that reduce the life span of the people and affect their overall body functions.
The writer has made good use of the reserences that are important, authentic, as well as appropriate to the topic. Moreover, each factual information has proper intext citations. The length of the report meets the criteria and there are little grammatical errors found in the document. The writer wrote the paper in third person that shows the quality of writing an academic report.
It would be better to represent the timeline in a table format rather than listing it down to increase the effectiveness as well as presentation of the report.
Overall, the report is well written that is structured in an integrated and cohesive manner. The structure of the report is easy to grasp for people without a background understanding of the concept.
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