FIGHTING CHILDHOOD OBESITY
OCTOBER 18, 2012
BY: NICOLE BAILEY-COVIN
As National School Lunch Week cooks down to an end on Friday Oct 19, organizers, schools nutritionist, and healthcare professionals across the county are hoping the key message of healthy eating is not forgotten. The issue of fighting childhood obesity is real and has taken a national spotlight. This week there was a Presidential Proclamation for School Lunch Week, and health studies were also released in conjunction with this week to discuss the dangers of childhood obesity.
Among those studies include one by the University of Southern California (USC Rossier). The USC Rossier study pulls together statistical information in an easy read slideshow called Understanding Childhood Obesity. Also click on this story’s slideshow to review the timely information about the state of childhood obesity in this nation. Some featured facts include: One in three children, between the ages of 2 – 19, is overweight or obese. These numbers beg the question: How did we get to this youth healthcare crisis in 2012 when in 1975 the number of obese children was much lower? The study shows 5% of the nation’s children, ages 2 -19, were obese in 1975. The USC Rossier study reveals part of the problem as a combination of little physical exercise and lots of unhealthy foods.
View slideshow: Understanding Childhood Obesity
Locally, school districts like Atlanta Public Schools and DeKalb County Schools have embraced solutions to end this problem by promoting goals like hands-on healthy eating. Both districts have connected students directly to eating freshly grown fruits and vegetables. Across Metro Atlanta, school districts are not sitting back watching students fall into serious health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. Instead they have successful adopted new federal lunch standards, and are participating in student nutrition education programs.
Atlanta Public Schools manages several community gardens including the famed Burgess- Peterson Academy which received a special visit by First Lady Michelle Obama in February 2011. Last year, eight DeKalb County Schools received more than $14,000 in farm-to-school mini-grants from Georgia Organics and the DeKalb Board of Health. With the grants, DeKalb schools planted edible gardens, incorporated healthier foods in field day activities, and even held school-wide broccoli promotions.
Joyce Wimberly, Executive Director of DeKalb School Nutrition says, “This is a great opportunity to showcase the great strides our district is making to prepare fresh, healthy meals for our students, and our teachers are supporting this movement by bringing edible gardens into the curriculum.”
DeKalb’s Wellness Policy is among other Metro Atlanta districts’ efforts proving that healthy lessons will live on long after National School Lunch Week is over.
National School Lunch Week was first started by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.