America’s Youth, Supersized
May 24, 2010
Audience: General Audience
Purpose: To highlight the epidemic of childhood obesity
Roughly one third of the children in the United States, nearly 25 million, are considered to be overweight [ (Hellmich, 2009) ]. Since the 1960’s, childhood obesity rates have tripled. Nearly 34 percent of children are now at risk for obesity, which is “defined as having a body mass index (BMI) between the 85th and 95th percentiles.” Obesity is known to be associated with increased risks of diseases such as heart disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension; these complications are likely to persist into adulthood [ (Demattia & Denny, 2008) ]. Despite efforts by health organizations, childhood obesity continues to be a major and increasing public health problem, fueled by a change in lifestyle and attitude.
National momentum to reverse the trend of childhood obesity is evident; small victories are being won around the country. In 2004, Congress enacted the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which requires school districts to adopt and oversee a school wellness policy that addresses healthy nutrition and physical activity. In 2006, at least thirty-one states introduced or amended bills to improve schools’ nutrition environment and physical activity; eleven states adopted such legislation. Safe Routes to School (SR2S) is a national program started in 2005 that provides funding to communities to develop programs and projects related to bicycle and pedestrian safety to bring back walking to school. This small increase in physical activity has the potential to affect the increase in weight gain we have seen in our community. In addition to the government programs, private organizations are also taking steps to address childhood obesity. Growing Power, Inc. is an urban farm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that is developing community food...