Taking action against childhood obesity


According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately sixteen percent of adolescents were obese in the year 2000. In addition to that, about fifteen percent of teenagers were at risk of being overweight.

“[Adolescents’] generation has grown up with video games and the Internet. With these distractions it is hard to get the needed exercise to stop obesity,” said Jimmy Williams, coach and PE teacher at LRHS. “We [P.E. department] encourage the students at Leesville to eat right and exercise daily, but we can only do so much. Teenagers have to do some of the work on their own.”

Organizations across America have decided to step up and assist adolescents in taking action to prevent obesity.

The National Football League, or NFL, established the NFL PLAY 60 campaign to get America’s youth up and active. NFL PLAY 60 is encouraging students to play for at least sixty minutes a day. Through in-school, after school and team-based programs, the NFL PLAY 60 will educate students all over the nation, including the triangle, about the threats and solutions to obesity. The P.E. department can help the students at LRHS meet the sixty minute goal of exercise.

“We do a good job in getting the students at least thirty minutes of exercise per day,” said Coach Williams.

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign shortly followed the NFL’s PLAY 60 movement into the battle against obesity. The Let’s Move! campaign is another program focused on tackling adolescent obesity. According to their website, the Let’s Move! campaign is “engaging every sector of society that impacts the health of children to provide schools, families and communities the simple tools they need to help kids be more active, eat better, and get healthy.”

On September 8, the NFL PLAY 60 movement and the Let’s Move! campaign announced that they would team up “to combat childhood obesity and help the nation’s youth lead healthier, more active lives.”

This alliance has brought together two highly-funded organizations and will further advance the battle against obesity in schools like LRHS. Together, the NFL PLAY 60 movement and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign promise to make exercising easier but they are calling on students to work with them in order to establish a daily habit of exercising.

“Everyday after school, I put on my shoes and I take a nice long sixty minute run to keep me in shape for cross country and track,” said Ben Tyner, sophomore and athlete. “Running is one of the best ways to get in shape and it helps build core muscles.”

Encouraging students to exercise is just one way being used to help prevent adolescent obesity. Other techniques are being utilized in schools around the nation and are becoming more commonly used.

For example, in Wake County cafeterias whole-wheat buns are being featured on menus in place of white bread buns. By getting higher quality foods into student’s diets, Wake County is providing teenagers with more energy per ounce of food.

If a student grows up with obesity they are more likely to develop serious health problems such as increased risk of premature death, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

As of right now, researchers are being funded with millions of dollars to find a way to battle the health problems associated with obesity. In the mean time, it is recommended that adolescents take the necessary steps to prevent obesity before it becomes a problem.


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