Friday, November 6, 2009

How Can We Fix This?

So it's Friday afternoon and before I attempt to be social in any way I am decompressing with my DVR'd episode of the Biggest Loser from the other night. I don't always watch this show, but occasionally I will tape it when my favorite shows are doing reruns (Glee!? Come back!).

For those of you who don't watch it, this week the contestants went to Washington DC. At one point, they were talking to some Congress people (or someone in power I don't really remember who) about the problems with obesity in children. They mentioned the fact that obesity in children has become a lot larger problem in recent years.

Why I Think Kids are Getting Less Healthy

1. No one has enough money (or we are spending money on flat screen tvs and ipods), and unhealthy food cost less.
2. No one has enough time, and unhealthy food (frozen, processed etc) is quicker to prepare.
3. Kids are so busy doing homework (way too much!), piano lessons, religious education, etc etc they don't have enough time to just run around and get exercise.
4. Food being sold is getting more processed and filled with unhealthy ingredients every single day.
5. School lunch is just as disgusting as ever- chicken nuggets and pizza every day? hmm.

There are probably many other reasons I have not mentioned. On The Biggest Loser, they discussed education as a solution to the problem. I do think education is important. We need to teach kids how to eat healthy and active. However, we also have to educate parents because once the kids leave the classroom, we need these ideas reinforced at home.

However, we can't just educate by saying "eat well, it's important" or "be active, it's important." We have to literally show people how to eat healthy on a budget, or make time for exercise even in the most crazy day. And, how do we do this? How can you educate everyone?

As a teacher, I feel that I can take control of the active part. Recess is TOP priority in my classroom. Seriously. I never cut recess short for anything unless it is pouring rain, or dangerously cold. If a math lesson does not get done because we were at recess, that's fine with me (this doesn't happen often, I promise ha ha). I take "exercise" breaks throughout the day. I refuse to assign homework in kindergarten (even when all the parents ask for it) because I want the kids to go outside and PLAY.

But what about nutrition, what can I do about that? And also, what can we do for children who are already overweight without allowing them to fall into the unhealthy "diet" trap?


  1. I've heard so many different ideas about this - one is to make everyday foods look good to kids. If they really think they "need" fries everyday start slow with offering baked potato "fries" sp they'll gradually change to healthier foods without going from chicken nuggets to squash :) Also, I think that when desserts are used as rewards for everything it sends a message that puts desserts with deeper meanings -I like sticking with toys and stickers for prizes. :) Just a few thoughts - I love this topic!

  2. Unfortunately I am kind of pessimistic about this given the number of adults who are obese in this country. It all starts at home, so if mom & dad are going thru the McDonalds drive-way on the way home, they are never going to instill the healthy eating habits in their children. And I feel like once a child is obese, it's so hard to reverse that trend.

    So I have no idea what to propose as the solution. :( But it's a great topic and obviously something that is important for our country to figure out.

  3. i totally agree with you. sadly, my 11 year old son had a huge wake up call 2 months ago when his father passed away of a heart attack at the young age of 34. he's already making better choices on his own... i try to teach my son about everything in moderation, limiting yourself to much will lead you to sabotaging your efforts when you lose the motivation once the novelty wears off. Activity is so important, and encouraging little changes can make a huge difference. Great post!

  4. I couldn't agree more that education is SO important. This is a great post, Kelly!

    When I went to college I was SO naive about food. I would just eat Mac n' Cheese and Taco's EVERY NIGHT. Had no idea about portion control and basically thought I had to give up chocolate bars (even though I only had like 2 a week, maybe) to lose weight. Needless to say, I gained 25 pounds in a few months.

    Now that I UNDERSTAND the calories in vs. calories out thing it's SO MUCH EASIER to eat healthy than it ever was before!

  5. The rules were different when I was growing up, but in 2nd grade we had "Food Friday." The teacher would bring in a new food (we started the year off with fruits) and we'd learn a little about it, get to touch it, she'd cut it up and we'd get to sample it. I loved it! And it gave us an opportunity to try things we might not otherwise try or even be exposed to! Thank you Mrs. Studdard!

  6. Great post Kelly.

    I think the biggest thing you can do is be a role model. I can still remember my teacher in fourth grade, she always smelled like coffee, and it was gross. I hated coffee for years, because of her! In other words, kids will do as their teachers and their parent's do. Most obese or overweight children are just practicing what their parents do. So you can be yourself, and eat really healthy in front of your children, and hopefully they will learn from you and practice what you do!

  7. First let me say I LOVE the Biggest Loser!! Rudy was a high school friend of mine! Second I totally agree with educating parents and children with health. I work in a school where 97% of the families are below the poverty level and there are so many overweight children. Junk food is cheap. We are also an underperforming school so recess was cut to 15 minutes so that we can increase instructional time. It is such a hard balance because kids need time to run. They also need to be taught how to play. When kids live in a "concrete jungle" they need to be taught how to go out and play. Teachers can do this but we need the time...maybe after school. Education is the solution!

  8. i think you bring up a good point when you say we all complain we never have enough money...but we sure do when it comes to that flat screen t.v!

  9. I think a lot of work needs to be done in the schools. School lunches need a total overhaul. There have been countless studies and tests done that have shown that we CAN feed kids healthy AND cheap meals, but we still see nothing but tater tots and pizza in the cafeterias. Kids do like "good for you" food, they just have to be introduced to it in the right way!

  10. I have no idea how to fix the problem but I have a ton of respect for you and the effort you are making to get your students outside and exercising! All of the kids I know spend the majority of their free time playing video games and it is just sad. I wish they understood that they should enjoy their freedom to run around outside now before they are chained to a desk for 8 hours a day! : )

  11. This is definitely a problem. I agree with your reasons why children eat the way they do.

    At our school we have one ingredient snack Wednesdays where the students are encouraged to bring in a fruit or vegetable for snack. They get so into it. We keep a chart of how many students in our class bring the food in and we try to beat it the following week.

  12. maybe you could assign homework that involves activity?

    gahhh i would love for you to be my teacher. more recess please!! :)