Curing Obesity in American’s Youth

One of the biggest issues in the country over the last 10 years has been the rapid growth in the number of America’s youth who can be considered obese. There are many factors that can play into why a child could develop health issues that contribute to a large amount of weight gain. But whose job should it be to try and control the dietary intakes of the children who are affected with this issue? Recently the government has tried to implement different laws or regulations on food being served in cafeterias and vending machines across the country.

The first state to pass laws controlling what children in schools could purchase in vending machines and in cafeteria lines with regulations on calories, trans fat, sugars and many other factors that can lead to an unhealthy diet was California. Governor Schwarzenegger attempted to try and limit what children could have, hoping that simply cutting down on sodas and candy bars would help children live healthier in the state of California; and “between 2003 and 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 677, SB 965 and SB 12 into law, a set of statewide policies to eliminate sodas and other highly sweetened beverages and restrict the sale of junk foods in all of California’s public schools” (Sanchez-Vaznaugh). But since passing the laws, almost every state has began to crack down on what its youth can eat in schools. But more recently, Michelle Obama has taken child healthcare into her own hands with her family and is attempting to help the nation as she says “obesity in this country is nothing less than a public health crisis [and] it’s threatening our children, it’s threatening our families and more importantly, it’s threatening the future of this nation.” (Keefe). As she says this she is somewhat lobbying for her husband to continue to reform nationwide healthcare in order for children to be healthier since they too are parents of kids eight and 11 who are at their greatest risk now.

The real question Americans have is, as the government monitors the food children are allowed to eat, is it really making a difference in their overall health? Researchers suggest that “although policymakers cannot directly influence student behavior, our study shows that governmental policies can help define the environment in which children learn to make food choices and thus shape the food behaviors, influencing overweight trends in entire student populations” (Sanchez-Vaznaugh). Being in school from six to seven hours a day for five days a week during the school year, a lot of time is spent with schools having complete control of a diet as they serve kids one meal a day with the additions of vending machines or other sources of food. So hopefully the government’s plan for influencing the youth to have a healthier and more conscious diet works.

Works Cited
Keefe, Bob. “Michelle Obama: Childhood Obesity a ‘public Health Crisis’” Atlanta News, Sports,
Atlanta Weather, Business News. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/michelle-obama-childhood-obesity-a-public-health-c/nQb7G/

Sanchez-Vaznaugh et al., ‘Competitive’ Food And Beverage Policies: Are They Influencing Childhood Overweight Trends?’, Health Affairs, March 2010, 29(3): 436; doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0745

By: Jalynn Williams, Class of 2016

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