Role of Local Schools to Stem the Obesity Epidemic
Obesity has been seen by the researchers as a threat that has many detrimental effects. The obesity in the children of school level can establish many other diseases and disorders that often expand into adulthood. Simply, it is true to say that the children with obesity ultimately become the obese adults because the childhood obesity produces a metabolic syndrome that is attached with them till the adolescence and adulthood and keeps the obesity on permanent basis. This metabolic syndrome is very harmful to the physical health and affects the quality of life very badly.
“Metabolic syndrome is actually a combination of high insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia), obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), and abnormal lipid levels (dyslipidemia). More than one million American adolescents have it.” (Baur, p 23) Generally metabolic syndrome starts a development in obese children that results to the surplus of the making procedure of insulin that promotes dyslipidemia and high blood pressure as a result.
Childhood obesity is a health condition when excess fat is accumulated within the child’s body and serves as a negative omen for its upbringing and sustenance. Even though the precise method for the determination of body fat is difficult, it is basically the obesity caused by this body fat that can easily serve as an indirect determinant of fat deposition through the Body Mass Index analysis (BMI).
Though the problem of obesity is very common in almost all countries it is the United States in particular that has one of the highest rates of obesity present even in children. One of the most adverse effects of such high rates of obesity in children is that it acts as a starting point in becoming the key reason for other harmful diseases such as cardiac malfunctioning, diabetes and kidney diseases.
Major Factors of Childhood Obesity
Unhealthy eating routine and the overall environment of today has contributed greatly to childhood obesity to a great extent. As a fact Children have and uncontrollable attitude towards the high calorie junk food. Children eat junk food while watching television or eating while doing school homework. Consumption of balanced and healthy food has become outdated for so many modern families and they mostly rely on fast food that is low-priced and convenient to but though it is not healthy.
It has been observed that more children go to school in their cars or other vehicles like school vans than walk to school. According to the CDC, less than 15 percent of children walk to school or ride bicycle to reach school. In the year 1969, 42 percent of kids’ walked to school or used bicycles. This turn down in walking and cycling is not only affecting the health of our children, but it also has a negative impact on traffic congestion. Moreover this routine is the reason for growing air pollution and student safety and security in the region of schools.
Genetic features and family history has also played a basic and most influential role in the development childhood obesity, as genetically obese people show. This is medical fact that the heredity and family history cannot be avoided and people cannot change or exchange the genes that are attached with them as their heredity, but ecological factors and personal lifestyle of the people also have the same importance, as the obesity management is only possible in these areas.
Most children today fail to engage and indulge themselves in exercise because they spend too much time in front of watching TV programmers, playing video games or surfing the internet all of which contributes to laziness in their lifestyle and daily routine (Baur, p 24). Research has proved that children are 21.5% are more likely to suffer from obesity if they watch more than four hours of television every day.
Effects and risks of Childhood Obesity
The psychosocial impact of obesity is as serious and alarming as the physical syndromes of the obesity that leads to deprived body image, little or no self-confidence, social segregation, loneliness regular anger, initial stages of eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa, severe depression, and negative and destructive behavior in school and other social gatherings.
Obese children are more likely to become underachievers who are underactive, less popular, and unhappy. Promoting physical activity is an important intervention to lessen the psychological harm of obesity as much as is controlling the amount and type of food and drink.
Children in the United States are obese today more than they were a generation ago. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one in five children and adolescent aged between 6 and 19 are overweight. These children are on a more risky stage for cardiovascular disease, for example, high cholesterol or hypertension resulting heart disease and diabetes Type 2 in their adulthood. (Bouchard, p 23)Moreover, the obese students with challenges in the educational career and personal or social fields are more likely to bear more harmful consequences than are the ones who are not over weight.
Educational and Career Consequences of Childhood Obesity
Absenteeism can cause a poor school performance for students who are obese as they miss so many school days. As they are not regular to the school they miss many informative lessons and physical activities which are necessary for a healthier life like outdoor games and swimming classes.
According to the researchers students who are not regular to school or the ones who are mostly absent from school for a long period of time due to a chronic disease are likely to bear more difficulties in returning to school because of a sense of helplessness and depression. In a research by Bouchard (p 82), 45% of school students with constant poor health report falling behind in their lessons which can visibly raise the number of negative school experience.
Childhood Obesity Prevention and The Role of Schools and School counselors
Prevention and treatment are more or less the same in reducing or preventing child obesity. First of all the parents can play an important role by changing the food world for t he children that mean providing healthy food and unavailability of the junk and fattening food.
Obesity is much less possible to take place in families and schools that encourage healthy food and healthy lifestyles: balanced and reasonable nutritional eating, good intake of water, exercise and other physical activities like outdoor games and adequate sleep. Parent’s efforts apart, the role of local schools is very important in this regard. Schools can play a major part to stop the obesity in children.
The key to successful long-term obesity prevention and treatment involves respect for the individual child’s personal first choices and enjoyments by the education professionals, nothing will enhance motivation more. Decreasing sitting time and the active support and appreciation of free play is far more effective than consents to exercise or reduce food intake. Even in families where genetics play a major role in obesity, a healthy lifestyle will reduce the negative impact that obesity can have on the children’s overall health.
Successful school-based interventions in the dealing with the obesity include a set of course and prioritization of physical education classes with a proper schedule and planning aiming to stem the obesity in school children. Some other strategies that the schools can adopt is the healthy choices of food for students in school canteens, proportional food servings, encouraging children for the intake of water as the main drink, and the assurance of the availability of students after-school tricks that engage physical activity such as sports. When these elements are not the part of their daily routine, effectual obesity management for school-age children is complicated.
It is the responsibility of schools and school counselors to not only provide academic development to the students but to improve their personality, social behavior and even encourage them to adopt healthy eating habits. It is in this background that educators offer encouragement, management, and discussion and teamwork services with the spotlight on the academic career personal/social growth of every child in the school (ASCA, 2005).
As almost all educational institutions turn out to be more familiar to the educational calamity in front of our nation, many experts in different fields are starting to understand the negative impact of other personal and social factors have on academic and school success. As such, medical practitioners have started to understand the need and to find out the effective strategies to be adopted in schools to start the struggle aligned with childhood obesity.
As mentioned by Bouchard (p 80) there are many educationists and school councilors other are being acquainted with as association between the healths of student, academic performance and the hurdled the obesity creates to student achievement. For instance, many students diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes fails to spot their precious lectures and coaching time, which affects their educational performance negatively.
It is important to mention that with increasing prevalence of obesity among children, a law was passed which banned the use of snack vending machines in school settings in some localities. One of the studies that were conducted in this context showed that when 5, 106 school children diet plan was designed in order to reduce their body fat and obese body shapes, the results obtained showed that even the consumption of fatty diet underwent reduction, the BMI of students showed no significant improvement.
The reason which contributed to the non-fulfillment of such research objectives was primarily attributed to the fact that it is not solely the school environment but all other places such as home environment and peer groups that need to play their role in reducing the menace of obesity among children. In the form of peer gatherings and outings with friends, children consume calorie-rich food and sugar laden beverages which cause a profound increase in obesity among children.
A study that was conducted with 548 students over a period of 19 months showed that the likelihood of obesity increases 1.6 times for every extra soft drink that is consumed per day. Fast food has become a dietary symbol nowadays with food chains like KFC and McDonalds deceptively interpreting it with healthy lifestyle. (Bouchard, p 82)
Statistics reveal that this kind of food is highly popular among schoolchildren which are vindicated by the fact that over 75% of fast food consumers are 7 and 12 grade students. Some studies have also found that restaurants situated near schools are likely to be contributing more to obesity among students than others located far.
The Role of the School Counselor
In spite of the scarcity of the professional literature in the realm of school counseling as well as obesity. Most of the authors hold that current school counselors are able to bring precise expertise to this fight against children obesity and play pivotal for contributions.
American School Counselor Association believes that the function of the school counselor is to productively work for students who belong to K_12 it adds that school counselors are supposed to work as key member of the team belongs to education that works to develop the academic, social personal career that is beneficial to become productive and well round citizens of this entire society.
American School Counseling Association has included for important themes into the it’s crystal clear framework a) advocacy b) leadership c) team work and teaming and change in system. If these vital areas of counselor expertise and the themes are utilized properly and effectively , these can cause to complement the struggles of the rest of the other school professionals to fight against the children obesity.
School Counselor as Advocate
It is fact that it is the change of school counselor for being educational advocate for entire students. In this article the authors have selected to elaborate advocacy in the form of intentional endeavor to bring the colossal transformation in the status quo of practices, policies and learning environment is a struggle to buoy a student who suffers obesity and his family.
Creating access and opportunities for all students so that they can productively get their respective goals is one of the roles in which school counselor’s work. Several students who enter the school on everyday basis in the phase of challenges in all three domains (academic, personal-social, and career). An effective and positive school counselor is suitably balanced to meet the needs of entire students (Bouchard, p 24).
Though the advocates for children, school counselor are firmly buoy to embrace the challenge to enhance the opportunities the children to study and develop positively (ASCA, 2009) students who are the victim of obesity are mostly deprived by the practices and policies in most of the institutions that should give their services to them .
According to the researchers the school counselors who work as change agent and advocates the removal of these systemic obstacles that hampers the academic as well as school success for students.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 and ASCA (2009) have started work to highlight the need for school counselors and educationists to turn out to be involved in working for obesity in school children and reducing hurdles that really lead to low level of success and gaps between poor and alternative childhood and their more privileged peers. On regular basis school counselors obtain information about the test results of students, performance reports, accomplishments and failure (Dietz, p 543), thus putting school counselors in a planned and strong position to identify the requirements of a student who is obese or at extreme risk of obesity.
Strategies for Working with Students Who are Obese
The school counselors need to establish and adopt the strategies to dedicatedly work with the school children who are obese. According to ASCA (2005), school counselors have access to quite a few delivery methods by which to influence all K-12 students. The anticipation is not that school counselors will work in isolation to produce and adopt strategies or develop structures for the prevention/intervention and handling of students paining severely with issues connected to childhood obesity.
On another hand, ASCA supports and appreciates a mutual approach to get together the needs of all K-12 students effectively and professionally. This mutual approach has taken into view a complete tri-dimensional approach or method to teaching student skill progress that can be supplied using a variety of properly planned strategies.
Curriculum Guidance Lessons
According to the recent researches done in the area of childhood obesity and its management and handling to prevent school children from the obesity, one of the very efficient and successful advances to dealing with childhood obesity prevention in schools is through school extensive teaching and through the counseling of students (Epstein, p 95)
Several researchers have mentioned in their studies that students who attended schools that had a fully practicing guidance program for some years, including curriculum management instructions, reported higher grades, more positive changes in classroom performance and attitudes, enhanced school attendance and better coping skills. As school counselors teach utilizing the classroom direction delivery method, they have a direct opportunity to help obese and non-obese students via the lessons, expand a healthy body picture and boost their self-assurance.
As an important and inevitable part of their guidance instructions, school counselors also contain the chance to educate students to think seriously about their body image as they challenge existing values of beauty and give confidence and tolerance about dissimilarities in look. The counselors can have comprehensive counseling with the students who are obese to tell them how they can become on front line with the other children who are not obese.
Additionally, school counselors working with a mutual understanding with other school members can educate students how to acknowledge their own bodies and the bodies of others children and pay attention of their bodies as they experience the growth and transformations and changes brought on by growth.
Critical to the perceptive of an obese student is the perception that the mirror image they see is not the total of who they are as a human being. Mentioned thoroughly in a research-based agenda (Planet Health obesity prevention program) is the is the notion that the body image or the physical appearance is not only the whole of your self. These constructs are well-known to school counselors and they efficiently instruct them to this as well (Lohman, p 98)
Schools can stop childhood obesity by contributing an active and healthy school environment. Schools should involve physical education on regular basis and complete health education in .Schools, school counselors and society organizations must provide sufficient funding, equipment, and management for programs that meet up the needs and welfare of all students.
They also should offer additional physical activity lessons that have developmentally appropriate sports and exercise activities for the various interests. This can end up as resourceful activities like karate, physical exercises, or any other work out that involves the active physical activity.
The phenomenon of childhood obesity is not contributed by a single neither a sole component is responsible for the occurrence of this health menace. In fact it is influenced by collective factors such as parental influence, decline in physical activities due to watching television, playing with technological innovations and watching advertisements.
It is also important to mention that from the statistics and research information presented has been able to provide us concrete evidence that household food and diet is much more nutritious and healthy as compared to junk food items and edibles.
To prevent the childhood obesity at school level healthy behaviors and positive should be taught at the early stages of school. The grown-up kids are, the harder it is bring the change. Behaviors concerning physical activity like exercise and nutrition are the "cornerstone of preventing obesity in children and adolescents" (American Obesity Association, 2005).
Families and schools are the two mainly critical links in providing the basis and education for those behaviors. By making an active healthy and positive atmosphere, parents and school counselors are able to establish a lifetime of strongly positive practices for their family.
Childhood obesity is a still-growing epidemic that has attained the status of a public health crisis. Obesity has profound impacts on children’s long-term physical and psychological health and, more often than not, leads to serious comorbidities in adulthood that are costly to treat and difficult to control. Focused strategies on modifying behavior and the slow but steady acquisition of healthy habits are the only ways that children will reliably supervise the balance between calories consumed and calories burned.
Adult habits, good and bad, are usually fostered during childhood. They reflect the height of care, attention, and insistence of caregivers. Childhood obesity can be a problem of adults’ misconduct much more than it is a problem of children’s choices.
Moreover if the school counselors are not paying attention to the obesity issue in school children and there are no school based interventions planned, the parent cannot do anything alone. Family and school counselors make a major contribution to children when they provide a health-oriented environment in which children are more likely to acquire the habits that promote wellness throughout their lives.
American Obesity Association. (May 2, 2005). Washington, DC. http://www.obesity.org/subs/childhood/healthrisks.shtml>.
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Lohman, Timothy, G. "The use of skinfolds to estimate body fatness on children and youth." Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 58.9 (1987): 98-102.
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